Any landlord in New York knows the first rule of the game: The moment you catch a whiff of a profit potential, raise the rent on your helpless tenants exorbitantly, mercilessly, and with no regard to logic or a sense of basic fairness.
Donald Trump, of course, knows this better than anyone. And in recent months, as he’s shifted from a self-funded campaign to one paid for with other people’s money, he seems to have smelled a profit potential and pounced. To wit: He “nearly quintupled” the cost of the office space he’s been renting to his own campaign.
As the Huffington Post reported, the Trump campaign has been renting space in Trump Tower in midtown for more than a year. In essence, he’s been renting space to himself. (A perfectly legal thing to do.)
For most of that time, Donald was giving Donald a pretty good bargain. Office space in the Tower was going for $35,458 per month, paid to Trump’s company Trump Tower Commercial LLC. That was the going rate as recently as March, back when Trump was mostly using his own cash for campaign expenses. Since he began a major contribution pitch this spring, however, the rate has jumped significantly, to $169,758 per month.
Could it be that the campaign is using more space? Well, probably not. The size of Trump’s campaign staff remains tiny compared to that of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and has actually shrunk since March.
Aside from the spike in rent, the Huffington Post found a few other notable expenses:
In addition to the rent for Trump Tower space in Manhattan, Trump has paid his eponymous golf courses and restaurants more than $260,000 since his campaign and the RNC struck a joint fundraising deal in mid-May, after he essentially locked up the GOP nomination. On May 18, the day the fundraising deal was announced, Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach was paid $29,715; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, was paid $35,845; and Trump Restaurants LLC was paid $125,080, according to FEC records. Such large payments were much rarer when Trump was self-funding.
Those payments may have been more rare a few months ago, but it’s long been obvious that Trump’s presidential bid was feeding more than just his nakedly ravenous ego. The New York Times reported earlier this year that at least $1.1 million in campaign funds had found its way to family members and businesses he owns. Campaign finance experts speculated at the time about the legality of mingling campaign funds once he started beating the bushes for dollars from his supporters. If nothing else, as one Republican National Committee member told HuffPo, it might make people who contributed to the campaign question the wisdom of doing so.
“If I was a donor, I’d want answers,” the anonymous Trump-supporting RNC member told HuffPo. “If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an [attack] ad out of it.”