The Trump Campaign Continues to Pay Trump Owned Businesses

A few months ago we wrote about the Trump campaign's disbursements to Trump businesses. Here we'll give a quick update now that the FEC filings for campaign disbursements in the first quarter of 2017 are available. If you are wondering why we are talking about the Trump campaign when the next election isn't for four years, that's because President Trump registered as a candidate immediately after his inauguration. There are a few strategic reasons for registering so early, but it also allows the campaign to continue disbursing money to President Trump's businesses as campaign expenditures. Here is a breakdown of the disbursements from January 1st 2017 to March 31 2017:

Recipient Total Disbursements
TRUMP TOWER COMMERCIAL LLC $274,013
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL LAS VEGAS $13,828
TRUMP RESTAURANTS LLC $8,708
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL WASHINGTON DC $4,043
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL AND TOWER $1,936
TRUMP ICE LLC $1,768
THE TRUMP CORPORATION $-428

That's a total of $303,870.17, or about $100,000 a month from the Trump campaign to Trump owned businesses, with the 2020 election four years away. The negative value for the Trump Corporation was money returned to the campaign for "services not rendered". The rate of disbursements has slowed since the actual campaign, primarily because most of Trump's campaign funds that went to Trump companies were to Tag Air Inc, which is a Trump owned company that operates his personal jets. Of course now the President travels on Air Force One. It seems however that substantial rent is still being charged for the campaign headquarters in Trump tower. 

There are a few things from our previous post on this topic that bear repeating. First, this money is obviously not going directly into the president's pocket, and second if his companies provided services to his campaign free of charge, that would be an illegal campaign contribution. However this highlights how toxic it is for politicians to have financial entanglements while campaigning or in office. These payments are just the tip of the iceberg, the Trump organization does not plan on tracking foreign revenue which may be in violation with the emoluments clause of the constitution. Presidential vacations always cost taxpayers a great deal of money due to security requirements, but President Trump's are particularly problematic since they involve substantial payments to his own properties in addition to the promotional value that his visits bring to places like Mar A Lago and his golf courses.

For better or for worse, President Trump's past and current business dealings are weighing down his administration. When Special Counsel Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstien gave Mueller power to not only investigate the interference itself, but also any matters that may arise directly from this investigation. Recently the probe has expanded into President Trump's businesses, including suspicious purchases of Trump real estate. There is a well documented history going back over thirty years of the Russian mafia using real estate, and in particular Trump real estate, as a means to launder money. Given this history and the recent uptick of purchases by limited liability companies, which are often used in real estate purchases to hide the identity of those involved, the Mueller investigation into President Trump's business dealings is likely to intensify in the coming months. 

Whether you regard this investigation as a welcome or an unwelcome impediment to the President's policy agenda, we should all agree that financial conflicts should be dealt with before a president is sworn into office. Two major steps in the right direction in this regard are to codify the traditions of candidates releasing tax returns and presidents placing their assets in a blind trust into law. Here are two form letters, one for your federal congressional representatives, and one for your state representatives, urging them to pass these important reforms. Feel free to edit and share them as you see fit, and if you want, you can use writetocongress.org to find your representatives and even prepare the letterhead for you.

We'll keep updating this each quarter as new FEC reports are filed, below are the running totals of disbursements to date from the Trump campaign to Trump owned companies.

Recipient Total Disbursements
TAG AIR, INC. $8,741,464
TRUMP TOWER COMMERCIAL LLC $2,154,868
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL LAS VEGAS $277,215
TRUMP RESTAURANTS LLC $211,742
TRUMP PAYROLL CORP $202,013
TRUMP PLAZA LLC $153,000
THE TRUMP CORPORATION $82,605
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB $81,322
TRUMP CPS LLC $72,000
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB - WESTCHESTER $48,239
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL $48,207
TRUMP NATIONAL DORAL $45,998
ERIC TRUMP WINE MANUFACTURING, LLC $32,196
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB, L.C. $29,715
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB WASHINGTON DC $20,144
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL AND TOWER CHICAGO $19,379
TRUMP HOTEL $18,300
TRUMP SOHO $12,761
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB CHARLOTTE $9,480
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL AND TOWER $5,254
TRUMP OLD POST OFFICE LLC $5,000
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLD CLUB - BEDMINSTER $4,275
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB - BEDMINSTER $4,275
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL WASHINGTON DC $4,043
TRUMP ICE LLC $3,853
TRUMP VIRGINIA ACQUISITIONS, LLC $2,326
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL CHICAGO $1,536
TRUMP NATIONAL DORAL MIAMI $1,473
TRUMP PARK AVENUE, LLC $868
THE TRUMP SECURITY $829
TRUMP HOTEL SOHO $671
TRUMP GRILL $607
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB DC $479
TRUMP INTL HOTEL $335
TRUMP RESTAURANTS $234
TRUMP SOHO NEW YORK $100
TRUMP CAFE $94

The data for this post can all be found on the FEC website. Check out GitHub to see the source code used to generate the content in this post.