It is an absolute fact that there will naturally be some crossover between political expenses and personal expenses because many times, the two overlap in a natural, seamless way. This is in itself not a problem and not a cause for concern, especially if it involves small amounts of money.
However, it becomes a concern when there are very large amounts of money involved, such as in the millions of dollars.
Take for example the Trump presidential campaign, of which it is beginning for round 2 as the 2020 cycle approaches. Trump, who famously promised to spend his own money on the campaign, has spend nothing at all save donors money, of which he has billed $1.3 million USD, effectively paying himself off of their finances according to a report:
Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money.
In December, Forbes reported on the first $1.1 million that President Trump moved from his campaign into his business. Since then, his campaign filed additional documentation showing that it spent another $180,000 at Trump-owned properties in the final three months of 2018.
None of this seemed likely when Donald Trump first got into politics. “I don’t need anybody’s money,” he announced on the day he launched his 2016 campaign, standing inside the marble atrium at Trump Tower. “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”
At first, he acted like it, spending $50 million of his own money from April 2015 to June 2016. But the following month, when he was officially named the Republican nominee for president, his financing model changed. From July to November of 2016, outsiders contributed $234 million while Trump put up just $16 million.
Once he became president, Trump had a chance to get some money back. The campaign put more than $800,000 into Trump Tower Commercial LLC, the holding company through which Trump owns his interest in the original Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Trump Tower Commercial LLC took in an additional $225,000 in rent from the Republican National Committee, which coordinated those payments with the campaign. That means that, since the inauguration, Trump’s reelection effort has had a hand in funneling more than $1 million into the president’s most famous property.
In addition, the campaign has paid $54,000 to Trump Plaza LLC, which controls a property that includes two brownstone apartment buildings in New York City. The reason for those payments, which are listed as “rent,” remains unclear. Forbes staked out the property for 14 hours on a November day but still could not pin down what exactly the campaign was renting. A person working behind the front desk couldn’t make sense of it either. “If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it.” Six residents also said they had never seen any indication of the campaign in the buildings. A 2016 campaign staffer, however, said people sometimes crashed at an apartment there when they were in town.
It is also unclear what exactly the 2020 effort is renting from Trump Restaurants LLC, which has received $60,000 in campaign funds. Trump Restaurants LLC is another holding company tied to Trump Tower. The building’s website, which features a handful of Trump-branded eateries, includes a page of legal disclaimers for Trump Restaurants LLC.
Inside the building lie clues to the purpose of the payments. Near Trump Grill and Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor, there’s a kiosk where tourists can buy T-shirts, hats and other campaign memorabilia. The fine print at the bottom of a poster next to the stand says, “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”—the official name for the president’s 2020 campaign committee.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a list of questions, including whether the stand is in fact the basis for the payments and how many square feet it occupies. So a Forbes reporter paced out the space to take a rough measurement. It appears the entire stand is approximately 60 square feet. With monthly payments of $3,000, that implies that the campaign is paying $600 per square foot in annual rent. For comparison, Gucci rents prime space upstairs, along Fifth Avenue, for only $440 per square foot, according to an analysis of a debt prospectus obtained by Forbes.
Real estate experts offered varying opinions on whether $3,000 a month represented an appropriate price. “That’s robbery,” said one person familiar with the New York market, surveying the kiosk from inside the building. Two others said it seemed like a fair deal, since smaller spaces often command higher rates on a per-square-foot basis. A Trump campaign official said the 2020 effort pays market rents.
It’s a key question because federal regulations allow candidates to put campaign money into their own businesses only if they pay going rates. Given the varying opinions on whether $3,000 a month constitutes a fair price, however, it seems unlikely that the payments will spark an investigation by the Federal Election Commission. “If something is really egregious, yeah, it’s there,” says Bradley Smith, a Republican who served as a commissioner of the FEC from 2000 to 2005. “But they’re just not going to try to pick apart things on a difference of a few percentage points and try to second-guess what should be paid.”
As noted above, the issue is not about the question of a natural overlap that exists and is inherent to such things. The question is when the number are (a) very large, as in the millions of dollars, and (b) involve an ongoing series of expenses that (c) he promised to pay for.
The issue is not simply one of technical “legality,” but one of principles, something that Trump has shown himself not to possess in the slightest save the principle of expanding his own power by any means possible.
Trump was given a fair chance, and given the fact that he does not have a previous political background, did objectively come into the political realm as an “outsider.” In doing so he had the potential, even in spite of his past actions, to act in a way that would be different, so much that even a slight change from the current norms would have the potential to yield massive results for the better.
He had the chance to help with the process of “making America great again.” But what did he choose to do instead?
He went to Jared- Jared Kushner that is, and the story of his presidency has been told since them.
Trump has not made the nation better. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Trump’s systematic and horrendous dishonesty on major issues which people trusted him with, and which he has demonstrated a pattern of systemic dishonesty and deceit coupled with a manufactured reality-TVesque drama in the courts has made for a form of entertainment more debased and perverted than daytime television, for at least shows such as the Jeremy Kyle Shown are open about the degeneracy they promote and try not to hide it.
It is good and right to give politicians a fair chance. Such is what a man should do regardless of party, even with ones that one does not support. Bush II was given his chance, as was Obama. Trump has received his chance as well.
What one can say about Trump conclusively is that he has simply continued the previously existing pattern of a general decline in the nation with no serious prospects or actual “recoveries,” but more of the same patterns of debt expansion, financialization, and automation that are eviscerating the remains of the middle class and creating a class of those who have and those who have not.
Some will say that Trump should get a second chance because he is “better than the Democrats.” Make no mistake, I am not saying that like the Daily Stormer and many of the Millennials and GenZers in the new nationalist movement to vote “Democrat,” as to vote for them would be to vote for degeneracy. However, if one did not like Trump’s actions this time, what can one have cause to believe that he will act differently in the future?
The 2020 election, while an interesting one, is most likely going to be meaningless as Trump will likely win or at least, it will be ensured that Trump will win because in doing this it will ensure a Democratic victory in 2024. For all those who say that the “Democrat party is dying,” this is just a trope for fools because as I have stated before, the Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin and they directly assist each other in their political ambitions, as they all have the same objective, which is the realization of socialism in the US. Indeed, if Trump is put into office, the Democrats will miraculously revive and nominate a candidate who will win the upcoming elections.
In the meantime, no politician deserves a single cent of donations from the common man. If one wants to spend money, take what one would have spent on political donations and spend it on the “scratch-off” tickets at the gas station found in many states. One has a chance of actually making money doing this, and if one does not win, the money collected will at least go to pay in part the bills of the state government instead of going into a New York billionaire’s pocket who does not care at all about anybody but himself.