Trump has somewhat being a conservative spender when he self funded his campaign but since Trump transitioned from self-funding to relying on donors to get him to the White House, his campaign spending has surged—particularly when the money is going to the billionaire’s own businesses Vanity Fair reports.
In March, when Trump was still paying for his presidential run mostly out of his own pocket, his campaign spent $35,458 to rent its headquarters in Trump Tower. Last month, however, that figure surged to $169,758, even as the number of paid campaign employees and staff dropped from 197 to 172 over the same period, the Huffington Post reports. The sharp increase in campaign spending appears to correspond to a large infusion in cash from outside donors. According to the Huffington Post, the amount Trump Tower has charged the campaign for rent has steadily increased since May, the same month that Trump clinched the nomination and inked a deal with the Republican National Committee to fund his campaign. At the end of May the campaign doled out $72,800, followed by $110,684 in June, and $169,758 in July.
Trump Tower isn’t the only Trump property to have benefited. Over the same period, the Huffington Post reports a number of Trump’s namesake golf courses and restaurants have earned a total of $260,000, citing F.E.C. records. In July alone, the campaign spent $495,000 on Trump’s air travel, which is operated by a company that he owns. The Washington Post estimated that the Trump clan has pocketed $7.7 million as a result of the campaign’s expenditures.
The Trump campaign’s decision to spend money on Trump-owned entities is not new, nor illegal. But it isn’t just Trump’s tendency to favor his namesake companies that is raising eyebrows. The business mogul has continually confused veteran political watchers by spending inordinate sums on seemingly trivial expenditures, such as merchandise, while neglecting other crucial areas. For instance, in the month of July, the Trump campaign spent more money on hats ($1.8 million) than on payroll ($500,000), the Wall Street Journal reports, despite its growing need to bolster its on-the-ground campaign staff. And while Clinton spent $61 million between June and July on television ads, Trump’s campaign spent just $4.8 million. (The campaign’s first ever television ads were broadcast in four states over the weekend.) The Trump camp also made the curious decision to pay a Web-based marketing and design company, Giles-Parscale, $8.4 million last month to handle its digital outreach, despite the company’s total lack of experience working in politics or on campaigns, Wired reports.
In light of the double-digit poll deficit Trump faces in a number of key states, the pressure is on the G.O.P. standard-bearer and his campaign to make up a great deal of lost ground before November. But his confusing campaign expenditures raise questions about his ability to do so. As of July, the Clinton Money Machine reportedly had $140 million in the bank. Trump and friends had only $78 million. Considering the undeniable link between a campaign’s on-the-ground efforts and their fundraising success, if Trump wants a shot at the Oval Office he will likely need to stop focusing funds on his own companies and hats, and instead put the money toward building a sustainable campaign staff and fundraising. With less than 3 months until Election Day, that much-anticipated pivot does not appear forthcoming.
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