Trump's Campaign pours liquid funds into his businesses amid mounting legal woes, experts warn - Hindustan Times

Trump's Campaign pours liquid funds into his businesses amid mounting legal woes, experts warn

ByNikhita Mehta
Apr 18, 2024 08:55 PM IST

Donald Trump's fundraising campaign directs funds to his properties Mar-a-Lago and Trump National Doral Miami.

Donald Trump’s 2024 White House campaign fundraising operation has significantly increased spending at his properties, directing funds into his businesses despite his serious legal issues and financial constraints.

Former President Donald Trump directs campaign funds into his own businesses (Reuters)
Former President Donald Trump directs campaign funds into his own businesses (Reuters)

According to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, Trump's joint fundraising committee allocated substantial amounts to Mar-a-Lago and Trump National Doral Miami.

In February, the committee wrote three checks to Mar-a-Lago, totaling $411,287, and another in March to Trump National Doral Miami for $62,337.

While federal law permits campaign funds to be spent at a candidate's business at fair market value, experts express ethical concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest.

Shanna Ports, senior legal counsel with the Campaign Legal Centre, a nonprofit government accountability group, said, “When voters see something like this happening, it contributes to their distrust of the political system and their elected officials' motives.”

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Trump's financial pressures stem from significant legal expenses resulting from civil lawsuits. He posted a $91.6 million bond in a defamation case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll and a $175 million bond in a fraud case involving falsifying business records. The New York attorney general is challenging the financial soundness of the latter bond payment.

Despite facing substantial legal costs, Trump's campaign spending at his properties has been growing. Since the start of 2023, over $663,000 has been directed to Mar-a-Lago, with additional spending at Trump National Doral Miami.

Notably, Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno's campaign spent $109,000 on "event catering" at Mar-a-Lago, endorsed by Trump in December. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat with three terms, will face Moreno in November after Moreno won the March primary.

Concerns about Trump's business conflicts have persisted since his 2016 election. Campaign finance experts remain wary, despite the dismissal of a complaint filed by the America Democracy Legal Fund in 2016 that alleged, “Mr. Trump is using funds from his presidential campaign to further his business and personal interests.”

How there is no one like Trump out in the election field?

Richard Briffault, a legislation professor at Columbia Law School, acknowledges the legality of Trump's use of campaign funds at his businesses but describes it as "a little bit dicey,” suggesting potential conflicts of interest.

Briffalut drew a comparison between former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the only candidate with a business large enough to compare to Trump, but even then, Briffalut said, "Everything with Trump, nobody’s ever seen anything like it.”

Charging Trump's campaign and PACs the same price they would charge any other paying client for the services is the main requirement for his businesses. However, whether the campaign and PACs could obtain a better deal elsewhere raises ethical concerns as well.

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“How much are they charging? And to what extent are they putting people up who might be staying someplace else that might be cheaper?” Briffault asked. “You could imagine that there could be cheaper venues for these things, but they’re purposely holding them there.”

Trump's leadership PAC, Save America, has also allocated substantial sums to legal expenses as the former president faces four criminal cases.

His ongoing trial in New York City involves alleged payments to an adult film star during the 2016 presidential campaign to suppress information about an alleged sexual affair.

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