President Donald Trump speaks on the “Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure: Faster, Better, Stronger” in Atlanta on July 15.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s properties have made over $17 million from the Trump campaign and his joint fundraising committees since 2016.
That includes close to $400,000 recently paid by Trump Victory, Trump’s joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee, to the Trump Hotel Collection.
The payments to the president’s business came in the second quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading. The payments were largely for the RNC donor retreat at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort in early March, just before the end of the first quarter, according to a Republican official familiar with the matter.
At the weeklong event, Trump tried to reassure donors that his administration had everything under control regarding the virus, as CNBC first reported. Vice President Mike Pence at the time echoed Trump’s sense of calm.
Following that gathering, Trump and the RNC opted to go to a fully virtual campaign, including for fundraising events. A person familiar with the matter said that even though the meeting was in March, the payments showed up on the second-quarter filing due to a delay in processing the payments during the start of Covid-19. The second-quarter filing shows data ranging from April through June.
The second-quarter payments to Trump Hotels were first flagged by Anna Massoglia, a researcher at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, or CRP.
Beyond Trump’s hotels getting paid the massive six-figure totals, a company run by a business ally of the president’s also saw campaign expenditures come its way. Las Vegas Sands, the massive casino company owned by longtime Trump and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, saw payments from Trump Victory last quarter.
The payments totaled nearly $250,000 and they came on the heels of the president looking to take part in a fundraiser in March at Adelson’s home. That gathering and the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual event were eventually cancelled. The RJC conference was supposed to take place at the Venetian, a property of Sands.
Adelson and many other large casino owners have had their facilities mostly shut down for months due to the pandemic.
The vendor payments to Trump’s hotels have rankled government ethics experts and triggered debates over whether his company is benefiting from his presidency.
An RNC official defended holding events at Trump-owned facilities.
“We hold some of our events at Trump properties because they are great venues that fit our needs,” the official said.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said: “The campaign pays fair market value and abides by all FEC laws and regulations.”
A representative from the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.
The data from CRP shows that in the 2020 election cycle alone, Trump’s properties have been paid close to $4 million by the president’s campaign, RNC and joint committees, including thousands of dollars to Trump Tower, Trump Restaurants and Mar-a-Lago.
The same groups paid Trump’s businesses nearly $13 million during the 2016 election, data shows.