WASHINGTON — Donald Trump failed to spend much of the money he raised over the past two years fighting his 2020 election loss or helping Republicans win two Georgia Senate seats or funding a “red wave” in 2022, but he did manage to put nearly $1 million of his donors’ contributions right back into his own cash registers.
From the day he left office through the end of last year, the coup-attempting former president’s various political committees spent $905,570 at his properties, according to a HuffPost analysis of new Federal Election Commission filings.
From $94,462 that Trump’s Save America “leadership PAC” dropped at Trump’s hotel on Central Park West in Manhattan on Dec. 10, 2021, to $1,122 his newly reformed presidential campaign spent at his West Palm Beach golf course on Dec. 12, 2022, to twin $48 tabs the campaign spent at his Mar-a-Lago social club on Nov. 18, 2022, it all represents a conversion of donor money into revenues at Trump businesses, with the profits flowing directly to him personally.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a HuffPost query on this matter.
However, his pattern of spending large amounts from committees he controls to benefit himself is not new.
During his 2016 campaign, he established his headquarters at his own mixed-used building in Manhattan, turning un-rented office space into cash. Then, when he secured the nomination, and the source of the money became the Republican National Committee’s fundraising operation rather than his own campaign, Trump quintupled the rent he was charging himself.
Trump Tower, in fact, remained the single biggest target for Trump committee spending over the past two years, receiving a total of $412,958 from the “Make America Great Again PAC,” his renamed and reconstituted 2020 campaign committee, in the form of $37,542 monthly payments for 11 months.
Although the payments were described as “rent” in FEC filings, no political committee work occurred there. The practice stopped immediately after HuffPost published an article about it.
Trump’s New York City hotel received $336,218 in Trump committee money, and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump also lives during the winter months, received $137,272. That amount includes $68,988 the business received after it became the locale for Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement on Nov. 15.
Trump began aggressively raising money for Save America shortly after losing his re-election bid in 2020. In a barrage of fundraising emails and text messages to his list of some 20 million supporters, he claimed he would use the money to pursue legal challenges to his losses in states narrowly won by Democrat Joe Biden and help the two Republican senators in Georgia in their runoff elections. In fact, he spent none of Save America’s money for either purpose.
Last summer, after other Republicans criticized him for collecting such a large proportion of small-dollar donations that could have flowed instead to GOP candidates actually on the ballot, Trump transferred much of Save America’s cash hoard to a new super PAC run by a former aide, which wound up spending $15 million on behalf of Republican candidates that Trump favored because they were willing to spread his lies about a stolen election.
Most of those candidates ended up losing. And a much larger chunk of that cash, $54 million, remains with the super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., which can now use it to boost Trump’s 2024 candidacy — something that Save America is not legally allowed to do.
Trump did give 152 House and Senate candidates $5,000 each for their campaigns, totaling $760,000. But his spending on candidates was dwarfed by the $27.3 million he has paid to lawyers, most of whom appear to be handling his various personal legal troubles.
Despite facing multiple criminal investigations over his attempted coup to remain in power and his refusal to turn over classified documents in defiance of a subpoena, Trump remains the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination in many polls.