Save America, the leadership PAC where former president Donald Trump is asking loyalists to direct their political contributions, paid for lodging about two dozen times in the first six months of 2021.
Make America Great Again PAC, a repurposed campaign account, spent about $200,000 on office and restaurant space in Trump Tower, according to its filing for the first half of the year. Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, separately has spent $2,200 at Trump properties so far this year, according to a filing by that committee. And a Trump-backed PAC overseen by Corey Lewandowski, his 2016 campaign manager, paid $21,810 to rent space at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., it reported on Saturday.
These are small sums compared with the kind of spending Trump did at his properties on the campaign trail and as president. But they stand out because of the relatively little spending Trump has done from his post-presidency war chest. His Save America PAC spent little more than $3 million in the first half of the year, while raking in $62 million — part of a haul that left him with a political war chest of $102 million.
Since Trump entered the presidential race in June 2015, he has used his political campaigns and associated committees to pump more than $19 million into his own businesses, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign-finance records.
The practice began during his 2016 run, when Trump’s campaign paid his businesses about $12.5 million — transforming donors’ political contributions into private revenue for his businesses. Trump billed his own campaign to fly himself on his Boeing 757 jet, to rent office space in Trump Tower and to hold events at Trump golf clubs. His name-branded “Trump Ice” water even showed up on the campaign’s tab.
In 2020, Trump’s political operation spent about $6.7 million at Trump Organization properties. The figure was lower than in 2016 in part because Trump was traveling to campaign stops on Air Force One, so he no longer paid himself for air travel. The payments continued even after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. Campaign filings show that Trump’s campaign still paid Trump Tower more than $40,000 in rent in December, after the race had already been decided.
As president, Trump repeatedly visited his own properties — for weekend and summer getaways, for lavish political fundraisers and for official summits with foreign leaders. These visits required Secret Service agents and other government officials to stay at the properties alongside Trump, and Trump’s businesses billed the government for their rooms, as well as for food, flowers and water served during official meetings.
In all, the U.S. government paid Trump’s businesses more than $2.5 million during his presidency, according to government records obtained by The Washington Post. That was an unprecedented amount of taxpayer money directed into the private business of a sitting president.
Trump has continued to bill the U.S. government even during his post-presidency, by charging the Secret Service for rooms they’ve used while protecting him at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., and at his golf club in Bedminster. The government has paid Trump at least $72,000 this way since he left office, according to receipts obtained by The Post. There is no rule against Trump charging the government for these rooms, allowing him to continue the practice indefinitely.
Trump still owns his businesses and can draw profits from them. He could control them if he wanted, though he has left them in a trust. Trump’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, previously shared control with Trump’s sons, but Weisselberg resigned his position at the trust after he was indicted on charges of grand larceny and tax fraud in New York this summer. Two Trump corporate entities were indicted at the same time. Prosecutors said that Weisselberg and other unnamed leaders at the company conspired to evade taxes by concealing a portion of Trump executives’ pay from the IRS.
The prosecutors who brought those charges — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) — have said they are still investigating the Trump Organization. Trump himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
So far in 2021, Trump’s properties have been paid about $348,000 by other Republican campaign groups, according to an analysis by ProPublica.
That list has included a number of GOP candidates who — while seeking Trump’s support in GOP primaries — have held events at Trump’s properties. Ohio’s Josh Mandel (R), running for the U.S. Senate, has spent about $31,000 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and rival Alabama candidates Lynda Blanchard and Mo Brooks, also running for the Senate, have both spent money there as well. The biggest spender was the Republican National Committee, which spent $175,000 to host a dinner at Mar-a-Lago during a donor retreat that was largely held at another Palm Beach property.
Anu Narayanswamy contributed to this report.