President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has rented a large Trump Tower office for only a handful of staffers.
According to HuffPost, the campaign is spending more on monthly rent for the space now than what Trump was charging from June 2015 to March 2016 when he was mostly self-funding his presidential campaign and had about several dozen employees working in the office.
Neither the campaign nor the Trump organization disclosed how many square feet the campaign is leasing or the amount its paying per square foot, but HuffPost notes that the building has been left with no choice but to drastically drop its prices on the commercial market.
Back in 2016, the building was charging $120 per square foot per year, which is about 50 percent more than the going rate in midtown Manhattan. However, the asking price is now down to just $80 per square foot.
Trump Tower has struggled to rent out office space since the election. Even the entire 14th floor, which once served as Trump’s campaign headquarters, is empty.
“He is really unpopular,” said a New York City real estate broker who opted to remain anonymous.
A Republican consultant who also spoke to HuffPost on the condition of anonymity scoffed at the absurd expense for the space.
“There’s nobody there. It’s like two guys,” the consultant said. “There is no campaign. There is no operation. It’s just a joke.”
Essentially, campaign donor money is going completely to waste.
In a very uncommon move, Trump opened his re-election campaign account on the very same day of his inauguration, which allowed him to keep using donor money to rent space in Trump Tower. It is not typical for a presidential winner to keep their campaign going in this way. Former president Barack Obama didn’t start his re-election campaign until April 2011, and his predecessor, George W. Bush, didn’t start his until May 2003.
However, Trump has a track record of spending donor money at properties he owns. He reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of donated money at his hotels and golf resorts where he held fundraisers for himself and the Republican Party.
“This is the least surprising president in history. He’s exactly the same person he was in the campaign,” said GOP consultant Stuart Stevens. “It’s what you signed up for.”
This practice continued well into the first year of his presidency. Last year, the Republican National Committee (RNC) spent $232,042 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, $3,000 at Trump’s Miami golf club, and $1,228 at Trump Café, which is located inside of Trump Tower.
Additionally, last fall the RNC took over the monthly $37,542 rent payment for the re-election campaign office in Trump Tower, dropping a total of $150,169 by the end of the year.
If that wasn’t enough, the committee began paying the salary for campaign employee John Pence — nephew to Vice President Mike Pence — which totaled $28,412 by the end of the year.
Although the RNC has not confirmed why it took over the aforementioned expenses, HuffPost noted that the timing coincided with the party’s decision to stop paying Trump’s legal expenses accumulated from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the alleged Russia collusion scandal.
It is evident that Trump likes keeping his money in his own pockets and adding to it.
Case in point: Trump’s campaign also spent large sums of money at Trump properties in 2017. Before the cost became the responsibility of the RNC, the campaign spent $473,371 for rent at Trump Tower. However, approximately $150,000 was most likely for the month directly after Trump’s election when the campaign was actually still using more space. But the campaign also spent $58,686 at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, and $14,860 at his Las Vegas hotel.
In total, the Trump campaign shelled out $774,163 in donor dollars at Trump-branded businesses.
And for all that, it seems the campaign has not even done much to improve Trump’s chances of re-election. They’ve held several rallies but only in states that Trump won in 2016. Campaigning heavily in these areas is like preaching to the choir, so to speak.
Trump has proven time and again that he is self-serving and untrustworthy, both as a businessman and as president of the United States. Is anyone actually shocked at the idea that he would be paying himself with donors' money?
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Darren Ornitz