The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Republican committees have paid nearly $1.3 million to Trump-owned entities this year

The Trump International Hotel inside the federally owned Old Post Office building in downtown D.C. has been mired in controversy even before opening its doors. (Video: Claritza Jimenez, Osman Malik, Jonathan O'Connell/The Washington Post)
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The Republican National Committee paid the Trump International Hotel in Washington $122,000 last month after the party held a lavish fundraiser at the venue in June, the latest example of how GOP political committees are generating a steady income stream for President Trump’s private business, new Federal Election Commission records show.

At least 25 congressional campaigns, state parties and the Republican Governors Association have together spent more than $473,000 at Trump hotels or golf resorts this year, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign finance filings. Trump’s companies collected an additional $793,000 from the RNC and the president’s campaign committee, some of which included payments for rent and legal consulting.

The nearly $1.3 million spent by Republican political committees at Trump entities in 2017 has helped boost his company at a time when business is falling off at some core properties. Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., lost at least 10 of the 16 galas or dinner events it had been scheduled to host next winter in the wake of Trump’s controversial response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

The market has been much more bullish for the president’s new hotel in Washington, which has emerged as the go-to venue for GOP power brokers and groups on the right. Trump International, whose room rates appear to be the most expensive in the city, generated nearly $2 million in profit in its first four months, as The Washington Post previously reported.

How the Trump hotel changed Washington’s culture of influence

In late June, an estimated 300 Trump supporters attended a $35,000-a-person RNC fundraiser at the ornate hotel, raising a reported $10 million for the party and Trump’s reelection committee.

The RNC is among 19 federal political committees that have patronized the Pennsylvania Avenue establishment this year. One of the biggest spenders has been Trump’s reelection committee, which has shelled out nearly $15,000 for lodging there, filings show.

The Washington hotel also hosted events for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), whose campaign committee spent more than $11,000 on event space and catering in late May and mid-June, as well as Rep. Jodey Arrington (Tex.), whose committee paid nearly $9,700 in early January for facility usage, food and beverages. The campaign of Rep. Bill Shuster (Pa.) spent more than $6,000 for “event facility rental” in early April. And the committee of Rep. David Valadao (Calif.) paid $1,744 on March 9 for a fundraiser at the BLT restaurant in the hotel.

Additional GOP lawmakers whose campaign committee or leadership PACs spent money at the hotel include Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Rep. Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (Ark.), Rep. Mike Kelly (Pa.), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Rep. Ted Yoho (Fla.).

Trump’s other signature properties also have drawn GOP fundraising events. The Republican Party of Virginia spent $9,705 on room rental and catering at Trump’s Virginia golf club in May. A joint fundraising committee for Rep. Tom MacArthur (N.J.) spent $15,221 in June for “venue rental/catering” at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., which the president has been visiting frequently.

One of the largest expenditures by a political committee at a Trump property was made by the Republican Governors Association, which paid more than $408,000 to hold an event this spring at the Trump Doral Golf Course, according to tax filings – a gathering the RGA said had been booked more than two years in advance.