Donald Trump has donated around $250,000 to his Presidential campaign. Instantly his supporters and even some of his detractors will scratch their head at the very least or call me a bald-faced liar at the worst, but it’s the absolute truth according to FEC filings.
His campaign has brought in over $8,000,000 in donations from individuals. This might also catch some people by surprise since many assume that he’s not even taking donations, but there’s a reason for having two prominent “Donate” buttons on every page of his website. He doesn’t need it, but your donations are the key to him being able to “self-fund” his campaign, as he likes to put it. How can this be? How can he take in donations but still consider his campaign self-funded? Because he knows the loopholes. He has LOANED nearly $20,000,000 to his campaign and in order to pay himself back, he needs to collect donations.
The Donald is smart. He’s also a liar because he is clearly attempting to mislead people. When this election is over, there’s a very good chance that he will be all paid back and the only money he truly “self-funded” is the $250,000 donation that he initially made. One does cannot bilk thousands of Americans out of millions of dollars through Trump University without knowing how to be at least a little scandalous and Trump is more than just a little.
There’s another piece to the puzzle, though not nearly as nefarious as many make it out to be. Around $3,000,000 of the campaign’s funds are paid directly back to his own companies. He pays for using his own jet or gatherings at one of his properties, for example. He uses campaign funds to pay his bodyguard who has been with him since before the campaign and will be within him when the campaign is over. If it says Trump and he uses it during the campaign, he pays himself back with campaign funds, often at premium rates.
This might seem scandalous, but surprisingly it’s not. It may be the most honorable thing he’s done during this campaign. To make certain that contributions cannot be made in the form of services or favors, the FEC requires that he pay for the use of anything commercial within his organization when it interacts in any way with the campaign. He’s not trying to rip off his supporters by paying himself every time he rides in his own jet. He has to pay himself for the use.
There’s also nothing wrong with loaning his campaign money to operate. However, calling it a “self-funded” campaign is a lie. If anything, it’s a self-financed campaign that is designed to be a safe risk assuming that donations, hat sales, and other inbound campaign revenues exceed what he loans the campaign and that’s all but certain at the rate he’s spending versus raising today. In fact, the loan didn’t need to be as high as it was, but it was important to him to be able to claim self-funding as part of his campaign sales pitch, so he loaned more than necessary to exceed donations. Whatever money is left over when the campaign is over will be used to pay down the debt to himself and knowing Trump, he’ll end up having spent nearly $0 of his own wealth.
Saying that he’s self-funded is completely misleading. His loans to the campaign will be paid back by average Americans. If he truly wanted to self-fund, he’d take down all of the “Donate” buttons on his website and give his campaign $50M to operate. If he’s worth over $9B like he claims, that’s like someone making $50,000 per year giving $277 out of their pocket to run for President. He’s way too greedy to make such a personal commitment.
Unlike truly self-funded candidates of the past, he has loaned his campaign millions, not donated it. That’s why he has multiple “donate” buttons on every page of his website. He will get every penny he’s loaned back from his supporters when the campaign ends. There’s nothing wrong with this, but calling it self-funded is a lie. Mr. Trump, please just speak the truth for once.
For reference, here’s his jet.