May 08, 2018
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How You Can Keep Track of the Money Political Committees Spend at Trump Properties

Our FEC Itemizer Database now tracks spending at hotels, restaurants and other facilities owned by the Trump Organization.

by Derek Willis, ProPublica

Since the 2016 presidential election, political committees have spent at least $3.1 million at various properties owned by The Trump Organization, including hotels, restaurants, golf courses and the famed Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. The vast majority of the spending — all but $731 of it — was done by committees connected to Republicans.

The $3.1 million is on top of the $12.5 million spent during the 2016 campaign, which mostly paid for flights taken by the campaign on Trump’s private plane.

In our FEC Itemizer database, we’ve started tracking details on which committees spend money at Trump-owned properties and how much they spend. The data comes from expenditure reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission by the committees. The data will be updated monthly, and more often when, closer to the election, multiple filing days occur in a month.

In addition to the list of all committees with spending at Trump properties, we’ve also added totals and a listing of transactions for each committee.

The number of committees that have spent money at Trump businesses has grown since 2016: nearly 90 committees have reported such spending to the FEC, compared with 16 committees that did so during the campaign. As the spending has grown, it has been the subject of news stories and criticism from watchdog organizations about self-dealing.

The leading spender at Trump properties is the Trump presidential campaign, which has paid rent to the Trump Organization and Trump businesses since the early days of the 2016 campaign. Since the election, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. has paid at least $1,684,700 to various Trump properties (because committees can have “petty cash” funds for small expenses, it’s possible that the real totals are slightly higher). The biggest expense from the 2016 campaign, payments to Trump’s TAG Air for campaign flights, have not appeared since then because the president travels on military aircraft.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The Republican National Committee ranks second on the list for the current election cycle, spending at least $945,027, mostly to rent venues for fundraising and political events. An RNC official who requested anonymity to discuss the committee’s spending said that Trump properties were a draw for donors and that they charged the RNC market rates for using the space. The party uses other hotels for fundraising events, too: It has spent more than $1 million at Four Seasons properties in the past 15 months, for example.

The list of other committees that have spent money at Trump Organization locations during the Trump presidency consists mostly of Republican candidates and PACs but also some state party committees. They have spent money at the restaurant and bar at the Trump International Hotel in Washington and at other Trump facilities in other cities. Committees tied to six House members have spent more than $10,000 at Trump-related properties since the 2016 election.

Our data covers committees that file electronic reports with the FEC, meaning that it does not include Senate campaigns, the National Republican Senatorial Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Those groups file their FEC reports on paper. We’ve also limited the scope to payments made since Trump announced his presidential campaign on June 15, 2015.

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