Trump Businesses Have Made Over $15 Million from Campaign and Presidency

Running for and being President of the United States has been very lucrative for the family business.


McClatchy (“Trump businesses made millions off Republican groups and federal agencies, report says“) reports on a scandal that should be getting far more attention.

President Donald Trump’s U.S. businesses have received at least $15.1 million in revenue from political groups and federal agencies since 2015, according to a new report to be released Monday.

The money went to Trump’s airplanes, hotels, golf courses, even a bottled water company during the presidential campaign and the first 15 months of his presidency, according to a compilation of known records of the spending by Public Citizen obtained by McClatchy.

But it was Trump’s campaign itself that spent the biggest chunk by far – about 90 percent, or $13.4 million.

It also includes more than $717,000 from the Republican National Committee; nearly $595,000 from Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee set up by the RNC and Trump’s campaign; and $9,000 from the National Republican Senate Committee.

[…]

By comparison, in 2013 and 2014, political spending at his properties was less than $20,000.

The total amount is likely to be much more. There is no single place to find out how much the administration is spending at Trump businesses, though federal agencies have started to disclose some records in response to public record requests. Public Citizen analyzed Federal Election Commission data and federal agency records obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests by Public Citizen and Property of the People, a group comprised of legal experts and activists.

[…]

Trump launched his campaign at one of his buildings, Trump Tower in New York, where his campaign leased space. Campaign events offered Trump-branded water and wine. The campaign and Secret Service paid Tag Air Inc. for use of Trump’s 757 airplane, customized with gold-plated bathroom faucets and seatbelts.

Since his inauguration, Trump has visited one of his properties, usually in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia on 138 days, according to a compilation of information released by the White House. Those visits have led to government spending.

Federal agencies that spent money include the National Security Council, Secret Service, Defense Department, General Services Administration and U.S. embassies.

Recipients include Trump Tower Commercial LLC, Trump International Hotel in Washington, Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump National Doral Miami, Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, Trump Restaurants LLC, the Trump Corporation, Trump Payroll Corp. and Trump Plaza LLC.

Honestly, I’d have guessed it’s been a lot more than that.

The $13.4 million funneled into the Trump empire by the campaign is unseemly but reasonably transparent. It doesn’t strike me as anywhere near as problematic as having federal agencies hold meetings there at taxpayer expense. The delta between $20-$30,000 and “millions” is a rather stark indication that Trump properties started being used as venues either by direct edict or to curry favor with the President. Either way, it’s an epic scandal.

The weekend visits to personal properties are somewhere in between, in my estimation. Past Presidents have had ranches and other personal properties and flying a huge entourage, especially the security detail, there has been considered a normal cost of doing business. Still, I don’t think Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush stood to personally profit from those expenditures. If they were renting rooms out to the Secret Service, I think we’d have heard of it.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Government, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    While I agree this is scandalous there are two realities here; one, grifters gonna grift…and two, no one is going to do a damn thing about this. Republicans in Congress don’t care. Dennison’s base doesn’t care. Therefore Dennison is free to continue to fleece the Government.
    This doesn’t even begin to address the Emoluments Clause he is likely in violation of, or the cost of his golf trips that occur almost every single weekend, or the cost to protect his adult sons and daughters as they conduct Dennison Inc. business.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    If Trump were really as rich as he claims to be, $15.1 million is chump change, especially since this isn’t from one project but from a whole slew of activities which required a heck of a lot of pushing and prodding on each of them.

    It’s the equivalent of jumping up and down and screaming “I’m rich!” when you find several pennies and a quarter under the sofa cushions and then immediately entering the amount into your budget.

  3. CSK says:

    I recall that when Melania Trump was suing the Daily Mail and a blogger for describing her as a former paid escort, her initial complaint noted that the accusation would prevent her from making millions off the FLOTUS brand. I’m not quite sure how she proposed to monetize it–magazines don’t pay First Ladies to pose for their covers–but she did appear to regard it as a money-making proposition.

  4. Mister Bluster says:

    Some mode of displacing an unfit magistrate is rendered indispensable by the fallibility of those who choose, as well as by the corruptibility of the man chosen.

    Attributed to George Mason. Delegate from Virginia.
    Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 by James Madison.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    We can be sure of one thing: if there was the equivalent of this going on with Obama there would have been multiple Republican investigations going on.

    As for Hillary? Please she would have been impeached by now for whatever Republicans deems worth of inclusion into the Articles of Impeachment.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    This is corrupt and scandalous and yet more proof (as if any were needed) that Trump is unfit for office.

    But, I suspect the net effect will be very different. Trump’s ‘wealth’ such as it is, is all about the name, “Trump.” He’s a brand. So far, that we know of, his name’s been stripped from hotels in NYC and Panama. I’ll bet if you could do a profit/loss statement his value as a brand has plummeted. Any association between Trump and ‘class’ is done, buried, with a stake through the heart. He’s gone from being the Four Seasons for the clueless-but-moneyed, to being the Red Roof Inn. His desperate reach for high class status has failed. He’s the trailer trash messiah.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Heck, a Red Roof Inn is more useful than Trump. It’s one of the few hotel chains that allows you to stay with a dog, no questions asked.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    There’s scuttlebutt that one of Michael Cohen’s other “clients” is Hannity.

    If this turns out to be true, my cup of shadenfreude will runneth over.

  9. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I have never understood the appeal of the Trump brand, nor to whom it was supposed to appeal. People who can afford to pay $100 for a fifth of vodka generally have the brains to know that $15 will buy you a good bottle, and people who think it’s “classy” to spend $100 on a fifth of vodka don’t have the money.

  10. TimH says:

    LOL!!! This is quite a turnaround from the pre-election Prog MANTRA that had Trump as a business FAILURE (because he had 4 out of his 500 companies fail or something) But…Progs gonna HAVE IT BOTH WAYS ALWAYS. That’s the Progressive Way, Komrads! BTW…SOMEONE was going to get that business anyway, right? Why would Trump feed his COMPETITORS? Wouldn’t THAT be bad business??? HMMMMM????

    17
  11. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    And if you have the money you stay at Four Seasons or Mandarin or Ritz Carlton, not Trump.

    Right now Expedia has the Trump Vegas going for $188 a night. The Cosmo is $475, Mandarin $329, Bellagio $299, Aria (my go to) is $296.

    You only go to a Trump property as a goof.

  12. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Trump property in Vegas has no casino. Why would you stay there?

  13. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Let your cup overfloweth. Everyone is reporting that it’s Hannity.

    @michael reynolds:
    Net time you’re in Boston, try the Copley Plaza.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    True because Trump couldn’t get past the gaming commission. He’s too corrupt for Vegas. Perfect for white evangelicals, though.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:
    You realize if by some odd twist of fate I ever have to impeach you as a witness, our first proffer will be:

    allows you to stay with a dog, no questions asked.

  16. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Too corrupt for a town built up by the mob, and which embraces 6:5 Blackjack.

    Makes you think.

  17. pylon says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It’s always amusing to me that the Trump grifting is so penny ante relatively speaking. Of course, the man himself is so shortsighted and small minded that this is the type of stuff that he’d come up with.

  18. pylon says:

    @TimH:

    Someone wasn’t going to get that business anyway. You can have meetings at embassies and the White House. Or Camp David. But you’re right, at least this wasn’t [horrors] a speaking fee.

    BTW, Trump had 6 bankruptcies, all in his core businesses of casinos and real estate. Of course, he has also had numerous other business failures that didn’t involve formal bankruptcies: his USFL investments, the Tour de Trump, Trump University, and his failed licensed products like steaks, water and vodka.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @pylon: Trump is the same idiot who thought that putting marble sinks and marble paneling into Trump Air would be “classy”. The fact that this was a bloody stupid thing to do from the viewpoint of weight and flying costs was totally ignored.

    (And how does ANYONE lose money running a casino?! I mean, people WALK INTO YOUR BUSINESS TO THROW MONEY AWAY. )

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Do I get the dog as well? (Dachshund puppies, per favor.)

  21. rachel says:

    Now that the Trump Brand is in the mud, who is going to pay for it once there’s no more use in currying favor with the owner? I guess his Secret Service detail will still have to stay there (and be billed for it) when he’s in residence, but who else will give him a dime?

  22. Hal_10000 says:

    Trump is doing to the nation what he did to his casinos. He ran his casinos into massive piles of debt while paying himself millions in salary and benefits. When they collapsed, the workers lost their retirements, the investors lost their shirts, the contractors got stiffed and Trump walked away with a bundle. He’s running this country into giant piles of debt while making himself rich. Nothing has changed.

  23. teve tory says:

    grumpy realist says:
    Monday, April 16, 2018 at 18:27
    @pylon: Trump is the same idiot who thought that putting marble sinks and marble paneling into Trump Air would be “classy”. The fact that this was a bloody stupid thing to do from the viewpoint of weight and flying costs was totally ignored.

    (And how does ANYONE lose money running a casino?! I mean, people WALK INTO YOUR BUSINESS TO THROW MONEY AWAY. )

    Anyone who knows about this and still supports trump is telling you all you need to know about their IQ.

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @al-Ameda: Heck, if, during the Obama years, it had surfaced that a DNC finance chair had paid a high end hooker 1.6 million for an abortion and silence, the story would have dominated the news for weeks. With Trump it’s a two day minor story only because the guy used the same lawyer the President* used for the same thing.