Now that he’s declared his campaign for re-election, President Trump can continue to funnel money into his own businesses, but the payments will also face more scrutiny.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had many unusual aspects, not the least of which was the huge amount of money it funneled into Trump’s own businesses.
And now there’s a new twist: Such payments can continue indefinitely because he’s already declared himself a candidate for re-election in 2020.
Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Trump’s 2016 campaign paid millions of dollars to fly on his aircraft, compensate his relatives for unspecified campaign activities and rent space in Trump properties, including Trump Tower in New York, the Trump golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
How much money did the campaign pay in total? Politico did the calculations and came up with a figure of $12.8 million as of Dec. 31, 2016.
Such payments are not illegal. Federal law allows campaigns to compensate businesses owned by candidates for any goods and services provided. But the amount of money Trump’s campaign funneled to his own businesses is on a scale rarely if ever seen before, says Norm Eisen, ethics adviser to former President Barack Obama.
“It’s customary for campaigns to provide some reimbursement, but we have never seen anything like this. It merits close scrutiny,” Eisen told NPR. He said the watchdog group he chairs, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is “poring over the records to make sure the charges are justified and legal.”