September 22, 2021

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Trump Shifted Donor Money Into His Business After Leaving The White House

Donald Trump never gave a penny to his 2020 presidential campaign. But lots of other people donated, even after Trump left the White House in January. The next month, his campaign committee filed a document showing it had changed its name to the Make America Great Again PAC. And while his supporters kept chipping into the pot, Trump kept taking money out of it, using his businesses to charge the group for rent. In this way, the former president shifted $203,000 from his political donors to his private businesses after leaving the White House, according to an analysis of the latest federal filings.

In addition, Trump set up a so-called leadership PAC, a type of fundraising committee that politicians often use to support candidates, named Save America. In December 2020, one of Trump’s old committees—which gathered money on behalf of both the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee—transferred $30 million of seed money to Save America. The group raised more from Trump supporters across the country, building up a war chest of $90 million by the end of June. For his part, the former president also drew money from that pot, using his hotel empire to charge Save America another $79,000 after leaving office, according to the analysis.

None of this cash should mean much to the former president, whose businesses will likely generate well over $450 million in revenue this year. Nonetheless, the Trump Organization continues to engage with Trump’s political committees. On January 21, the day after his presidency ended, the Trump Organization charged Trump’s old campaign committee $38,000 in rent, collecting the money via Trump Tower Commercial LLC, the entity through which Trump maintained a 100{a7b64cea8518fb527689a6fe2f00b436749cab714f997c19780b006c51026af7} interest in his Fifth Avenue skyscraper. Trump famously ran his 2016 campaign out of offices in the building. His 2020 effort operated partially out of the D.C. area, but it kept paying rent to Trump Tower anyway. Now the former president doesn’t even have an official campaign, but the rent payments are still flowing: $38,000 month after month, adding up to $188,000 from January to June.

A separate company, named Trump Restaurants LLC, has been collecting additional rent for what may be a kiosk in the lower level of Trump Tower. Tourists and Trump fans once paraded through the atrium of the building, but by mid-2020, with the coronavirus raging, there weren’t many visitors anymore. The $3,000 monthly payments continued anyway. They didn’t stop in November 2020, when the campaign ended, nor in January 2021, when Trump left the presidency. Instead, from January to June, Trump’s old campaign committee paid Trump Restaurants LLC $15,000, according to federal filings.

The remainder of the money flowed from Save America, Trump’s leadership PAC, to an entity named the Trump Hotel Collection. The leadership PAC paid $19,000 for lodging and meals on March 5, $11,000 on April 21 and $35,000 on May 12—mixing in smaller expenses along the way. In total, Save America paid the Trump Hotel Collection $79,000 after the former president left the White House, according to the review.

Related committees tossed in additional sums. One of the Trump campaign’s old joint-fundraising vehicles paid $2,200 to the Trump Hotel Collection on February 5. A political action committee called the Trump-Graham Majority Fund—which raises money for Save America as well as Sen. Lindsey Graham’s campaign and a couple of other groups—paid that same business $22,000 for facility rental and catering services on June 3.

Despite all the self-dealing, Trump’s committees still have plenty of money. The former president did not immediately respond to questions about the payments. But on Saturday, he issued a statement highlighting how his affiliated committees have about $100 million of cash on hand. “These fundraising numbers, coupled with tremendous support in so many other ways, show that President Trump’s supporters want him to continue the fight,” the statement said. Don’t expect any big changes soon.

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