Donald Trump’s PAC sent a fundraising email touting the construction of a new private jet, dubbed “Trump Force One,” hours after Trump’s plane was forced to make an emergency landing over the weekend, according to Insider.
A plane carrying Trump made an unscheduled landing last Saturday, while the former president was returning from a Republican National Committee donor event in New Orleans to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, according to Politico. The plane, which belongs to a donor who loaned it to Trump for the event, suffered engine failure 75 miles after taking off from New Orleans and had to turn back, according to the Washington Post. Trump ultimately returned home on the plane of another Republican donor, Craig Estey, the chairman of Nevada Restaurant Services.
Hours after the incident was reported, the Trump Save America PAC sent a fundraising email about a “very important update on his plane,” according to Insider.
“Do you want to see the new Trump Force One?” the email asked, with a link to a site that asks for monthly recurring donations of up to $2,500.
“I have a very important update on my plane, but I need to trust that you won’t share it with anyone,” said the email, which was signed by Trump (and presumably sent to many thousands of actual or possible donors). “My team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One.”
“The construction of this plane has been under wraps,” the email said, “not even the fake news media knows about it — and I can’t wait to unveil it for everyone to see.”
Critics called out the self-proclaimed billionaire for bilking his supporters of money to pay for a new private jet.
“These folks are grifters,” tweeted journalist Roland Martin.
So Donald Trump is flying in planes of his donors. What’s wrong with dump of a plane he has? And of course, at 3:28 pm EST they sent out an email touting the building of a new plane. These folks are grifters. Anyone thinking of backing him in 2024 is an idiot. pic.twitter.com/sIuqIbRWDS
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) March 9, 2022
“If your billionaire savior needs you to pay for his jet maybe he’s not being honest about his wealth,” wrote Fox News contributor Chris Hahn.
“Trump is entering televangelist territory at this point,” said Derek Martin of the government watchdog group Accountable.US. “I thought this guy was ultra-wealthy?”
The old “Trump Force One,” a Boeing 757 that Trump bought in 2011 and used frequently on the campaign trail in 2016, has been sitting unused and in disrepair at an airport in Newburgh, New York, about 60 miles north of Manhattan, CNN reported last year. One of the plane’s engines is missing parts while the other is shrink-wrapped in plastic, according to the report. Instead, Trump has been using a smaller 1997 Cessna that “isn’t his favorite,” a Trump confidant told CNN, because it “doesn’t have his name on the outside.”
Aviation experts expressed surprise that Trump left his favored plane outside in the elements but a former senior Trump adviser told CNN that “flying that thing was so expensive” that “just to get it up in the air and make one stop was literally tens of thousands of dollars.”
It’s unclear whether Trump is actually buying a new jet or simply using donor funds to repair his old jet. Trump said last May that the original “Trump Force One” was being “fully restored and updated and will be put back into service.” He added that the plane would get new engines and a new paint job and will be “again used at upcoming rallies.”
It’s unclear whether Trump’s PAC is raising money that will go directly towards the plane.
“PACs are often used as slush funds,” Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert at the good government nonprofit Common Cause, told CNN. “Campaign finance law doesn’t require PAC money to be used for political purposes, leaving open the possibility that Trump could use PAC funds to pay for private plane repairs.”