Despite limited spending and self-funding being key talking points in Donald Trump’s primary campaign, once he clinched the nomination, Trump’s campaign began to spend lavishly at the candidate’s golf clubs and office buildings.
According to FEC records, the day the fundraising agreement was announced, Trump’s campaign paid $29,715 to International Golf Club in West Palm Beach; $35,845 to Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida; and $125,080 to Trump Restaurants LLC.
The reason for these payments is not immediately evident, though both golf courses hosted Trump news conferences in March.
Additionally, Trump has continued to fly his personal airplane, which burns approximately $10,000 in fuel every hour, making it one of the biggest expenses for his campaign; $495,000 went to the Trump company that owns the plane in July alone.
The cost of rent for Trump’s office has also been a matter of consternation, nearly quintupling from $35,458 in March to $169,758 in July, despite an overall decrease in paid employees.
One prominent RNC member and Trump supporter anonymously voiced his concerns, stating, “If I was a donor, I’d want answers. If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an [attack] ad out of it.”
A statement released by the campaign has argued that “ Mr. Trump makes a personal contribution of $2 million per month to the campaign, obviously a much higher amount than rent.”
Furthermore, campaign spokesman Steven Cheung has responded to questions regarding the change in the office’s rent by claiming that the campaign has taken on larger quarters in order to accommodate an expected increase in staffers.
“We’re constantly adding new staff and in the subsequent weeks after convention, we’ve done that,” Cheung said,.
In spite of these claims, the campaign’s number of paid employees decreased from from 197 employees and consultants in March to 172 in July. Additionally, only a fraction of these employees likely work within the headquarters’ building itself. The exact number cannot be determined using FEC records; however, last fall only approximately a dozen of the campaign’s paid employees worked in Manhattan.
Clearly, since the bulk of Trump’s campaign spending shifted sources from Trump himself to his donors, spending has far outpaced necessity, a shift which concerns some members of the RNC.
The aforementioned anonymous RNC member worries that Trump’s spending may hurt him with small donors, claiming.
“Nobody cares when you’re spending your own money,” The RNC member said. “But when you’re spending the donor’s $27, that could cause problems.”
Similarly problematic is the fact that Trump seems to be using his campaign as a means of swindling donors and paying the money into his own pocket.