Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

When Donald Trump was toying around with the idea of running for president as a Reform Party candidate in 2000, he told Fortune that it was “very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” The Trump campaign and Republican political groups are helping to make sure this becomes a reality.


According to a new report from the watchdog group Public Citizen, Trump-owned properties have raked in over $15 million from political groups and government agencies since 2015, with the bulk of the money coming from the Trump campaign itself:

We found that President Trump’s U.S. businesses have raked in $15.1 million in revenue from political groups as well as federal agencies during his campaign and presidency. About 90 percent of the spending, or $13.2 million, came from Trump’s own campaign. In addition, more than $717,000 came from the Republican National Committee and nearly $595,000 from Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee set up by Trump’s campaign and the RNC. About $160,000 came from Republican candidates and conservative political groups, according to Public Citizen’s analysis.


Among federal agencies, the Defense Department has spent over $138,000 at Trump businesses, while the Secret Service has spent over $64,000. As Public Citizen notes, however, the number might be higher, since there’s “no single repository of how much money federal agencies spend at Trump properties.”

The majority of the spending since 2015—62 percent, or about $9.3 million—has gone to Tag Air, which operates Trump’s private Boeing 757. A 2016 Wall Street Journal story about Trump’s obfuscation of his business interests explained the convoluted web around this particular Trump property:

The plane, customized with gold-plated bathroom faucets and other luxury fittings, is owned by DJT Operations I LLC, a limited liability company owned by Mr. Trump. That company, in turn, leases the aircraft to Tag Air Inc., another Trump entity, which itself is owned by another limited liability company, DJT Operations II LLC, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Around $2.5 million has been spent at Trump Tower, and political groups and government agencies have spent six figures at Trump properties like Mar-a-Lago, Trump Restaurants, and Trump-branded hotels in D.C., Miami, and Las Vegas. Last year, Trump reported tens of millions in income from his real estate holdings from January 2016 to April 2017.

“Trump has raised the art of the self-deal to unprecedented heights, enriching himself at the expense of taxpayers,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said in a statement accompanying the report. “This requires a legislative response.”


They might get one: the group reports that Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, is planning on introducing legislation that would limit the use of federal funds at properties owned by an elected official. If that’s the case, all that’s left for Republicans to do is to take a strong stand against the blatant corruption and self-dealing that’s characterized the administration from day one. Should happen any day now.

We’ve reached out to Speier’s office for comment and more details on the legislation, and will update if we get a response.

News editor, Splinter

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