Already under investigation for numerous alleged crimes, “President” Donald Trump either doesn’t fully grasp the gravity of these investigations or he figures he has nothing to lose. As reported by Forbes, Trump is once again making questionable use of campaign donations.
Forbes analyzed Trump’s campaign filings and found that $1.3 million of these funds have been spent on rent, food, lodging and “other expenses” at Trump properties. If these expenses are not legitimate, it means Trump has managed to convert $1.3 million into his own pocket. On its face, this conversion could be lawful. The Federal Election Commission allows campaigns to pay rent for facilities utilized for campaign activities, as well as travel and meals, but Forbes was apparently suspicious — especially because all funds have been expended at Trump properties — and started their own research project.
One expenditure of $54,000 was paid to Trump Plaza, LLC, which controls two brownstone buildings in New York. Forbes staked out the property to try to determine whether Trump’s campaign in fact occupied space in one or both of the buildings, to no avail. They went inside and spoke to the person working the front desk, who told them: “If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it.” Let’s take this to mean there is not a campaign office in either brownstone.
In addition to the $54,000 paid for “rent” on the brownstones, $60,000 has gone to Trump Restaurants LLC. How much food have these people eaten? This organization runs several Trump-branded restaurants, all of which are contained in buildings it manages. Forbes reporters gained access to the building and found what they believe to be the recipient of these funds: A kiosk selling t-shirts, hats, and miscellaneous campaign memorabilia. Failing to get responses to a list of questions they sent to the Trump Organization regarding the square footage of the kiosk, Forbes had a reporter “walk” the kiosk to estimate its size: approximately 60 square feet. Forbes determined that Trump’s campaign is paying $600 per square foot (annually) or $3,000 per month for a kiosk. Comparing the cost of this kiosk to Gucci’s space on Fifth Avenue, Forbes believes something is amiss.
There are limits to what campaigns can pay for rent. That rent must be “fair” or “market rate.” Obviously, this is not fair and is certainly not the “market rate” if Gucci is paying $160 less per square foot. Let’s be real here: We learned from Michael Cohen’s testimony that Donald Trump exaggerates his net worth to secure loans to which he is not entitled. Multiple news outlets have reported Trump billed the Secret Service for golf cart rentals at his properties. Trump has engaged in so many questionable activities that have earned money for him, it would take several pages to list them all, but you get the idea: sure, these funds are being legitimately used.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years