Donald Trump has touted the fact he has been pretty frugal with his campaign spending. Most of his campaign expenditures had come out of his own pocket, but now that he’s receiving contributions elsewhere, he seems to be spending a bit more.
The Huffington Post reviewed Federal Election Commission filings and found he quintupled the monthly rent for his presidential campaign headquarters at Trump Tower. The Republican presidential candidate was found to have charged his presidential campaign $169,758 in July for rent. To put that into perspective, the campaign paid Trump Tower Commercial LLC $35,458 in March, as it had been doling out since summer 2015. But what makes the situation all the more interesting is that the campaign had 197 paid employees in March, but in July the filings showed there were 172 employees. So, the rent was much higher, but somehow there were fewer workers.
The FEC filings showed Trump gradually increased the rent since March, and the number of employees started to fluctuate during that time. Rent increased to $72,800 by May 31 and was up to $169,758 by July 10. On the staff front, the campaign had 166 paid employees and consultants in May, which dropped down to 139 in June and then back up to 172 by July. The Huffington Post was not sure which of those employees worked in Trump Tower but said usually a small fraction are in the headquarters building.
The Huffington Post thinks the rent hike is all about Trump’s new campaign funding. For the early part of his campaign, Trump was largely self-funding, with three quarters of the $59 million spent by the campaign reportedly coming from his own pocket. So if the rent was going to go up, Trump was going to have to shell out more. But now, Trump’s contributions are just a fraction of what they once were with the majority now coming from outside donors, both big and small. An RNC member told The Huffington Post that no one will cry foul if a candidate is funding their own campaign, but if they are using donors’ money, they would like answers on how the money is being spent.
Part of the rent increase can be attributed to the market, as Manhattan commercial real estate is not cheap and usually runs about $70 per square foot annually in midtown Manhattan. But Trump Tower has rented 9,000 square feet of space at $120 per square foot as of December. To compare, Hillary Clinton has leased 80,000 square feet at her Brooklyn-based office, which is being charged $212,000 per month.
Elsewhere, the FEC filings showed Trump’s golf courses and restaurants had been paid more than $260,000 since mid-May, but what that money is going to is not exactly clear. It was also reported $495,000 was being paid to Trump’s company, that owns his personal Boeing 757 airliner that he travels in. Nothing but the best for the real-estate mogul. Trump is spending a bit more freely now that he doesn’t have to foot the bill, but it raises the question of whether there are other motivations for the price hikes.
(Via The Huffington Post)