Republican nominee Donald Trump raised his own rent when it became clear he would be the Republican nominee.
The Trump campaign’s rent at Trump Tower in New York City had been the same throughout the Republican primary. Since starting his campaign last summer, and ending in March, Trump paid $35,458 a month for his campaign headquarters.
Trump raised his rent in May to $72,800, and in June, the rent increased to $110,684. The month of the Republican National Convention when Trump officially became the nominee, he charged himself $169,758 in rent for the same space, according to a report by S.V. Date of the Huffington Post published Tuesday.
Trump’s staff also contracted during that time. The campaign had 197 employees on the payroll in March, when the campaign paid just a little over $35,000 a month in office rent. Staff fell to 166 in May, and fell even further to 139 in June, before rising again to 172 in July.
According to campaign finance database opensecrets.org, 30 percent of personal contributions were small individual donations of $200 or less. Small donations added up to $37,236,701, the largest source of funding for the Trump campaign.
Trump started fundraising with the Republican National Committee in May.
“Nobody cares when you’re spending your own money, but when you’re spending the donor’s $27, that could cause problems,” an unnamed RNC staffer told the Huffington Post. “Most campaigns run on a much tighter budget.”
Trump invited TIME magazine to come inspect his campaign headquarters out of the unfinished office space in Trump Tower in May. The space used cheap folding tables, and had exposed ceilings and walls.
Then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski used the office space as proof that the Trump campaign was better at managing money than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Lewandowski added that he prided himself on spending Trump’s money as if it were his own.
The going rate for finished office space is $70 per square foot in that part of NYC, according to HuffPo, but the campaign was charged $120 per square foot in December. According to the report, there is still a 15,000 square foot suite that sits empty in Trump Tower.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in June that over 20 percent of total campaign funds went to Trump-owned businesses, including hotels, airplanes, and resorts. Such an arrangement is highly unusual for a presidential campaign, but the Trump campaign dismissed the charges, saying it’s getting a discount from the businesses.
According to the Federal Election Commission’s website, offering a discount is in itself a contribution to a campaign. “If you sell an item or service to a committee and ask the committee to pay less than the usual and normal charge, you have also made an in-kind contribution to the committee in the amount of the discount,” the FEC states on its website.
The Trump campaign explained its rent in an emailed a statement to TheDCNF:
We calculated the rent based on the average rent per square foot in the area. The campaign expanded from part of a single floor by adding the entirety of two separate floors. Overall, we still pay over $40,000 less in rent than the Clinton campaign. Also, Mr. Trump makes a personal contribution of $2 million per month to the campaign, obviously a much higher amount than rent. The reports obfuscate by talking about percentages of fundraising instead of amounts. – Trump campaign.
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