Trump’s Businesses Are Profiting From His Reelection Campaign

Following Super Tuesday, the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is down to three candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. It remains to be seen whether Biden or Sanders will receive the nomination (Gabbard has only picked up two pledged delegates), but whoever it is, that person will be going up against President Donald Trump — who, journalists Danny Hakim and Glenn Thrush stress in a New York Times article, has a massive Republican operation behind him. Meanwhile, an article by journalist Peter Stone for The Guardian outlines the ways in which the Trump Organization has been profiting from his 2020 campaign.

“The takeover of the Republican Party’s under-the-hood political machinery parallels the president’s domination of a party that once shunned him, reflected in his speedy impeachment trial and summary acquittal,” Hakim and Thrush explain. “Elected Republicans have learned the political peril of insufficient fealty. Now, by commanding the party’s repository of voter data and creating a powerful pipeline for small donations, the Trump campaign and key party officials have made it increasingly difficult for Republicans to mount modern, digital campaigns without the president’s support.”

The pro-Trump operation, Hakim and Thrush note, includes campaign manager Brad Parscale’s firm, Parscale Strategy — which, they point out, has “billed nearly $35 million to the Trump campaign, the (Republican National Committee) and related entities since 2017.”

Another pro-Trump asset, the journalists add, is the GOP fundraising platform WinRed — which they note, “has given the party an overdue counterweight to ActBlue, the Democrats’ small-donor fund-raising juggernaut…. In its first six months, capitalizing on the Republican base’s outrage over impeachment, WinRed raised $100 million, a fast start, though still well behind the roughly $1 billion raised last year by (Democratic fundraising platform) ActBlue.”

The outfit Data Trust is pushing for Trump’s reelection as well. Hakim and Thrush report that Karl Rove (President George W. Bush’s former campaign manager) was an “early backer of” Data Trust, which has become an “off campus arm of” the Republican Party — adding that Rove has been “informally advising” Parscale.

Stone, in his Guardian piece, notes that Trump’s Republican allies have been spending a fortune at his properties. For example, Stone observes, America First Action (a pro-Trump super PAC) has “spent over $540,000 to host events” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Stone goes on to say that in mid-December, mega-donors “rented pricey rooms” in that same hotel for a two-day event hosted by Trump Victory (a fundraising committee for his reelection).

“The hotel also seems to have capitalized with high rates: the cheapest rooms on Saturday, 14 December during the two-day meeting went for a whopping $6719 compared with the usual rate of $500, according to the watchdog group Crew,” Stone notes.

Trump’s “aggressive fundraising,” according to Stone, “gives a nice boost to his real estate empire, which he never divested from…. Trump’s businesses are literally making money off the 2020 campaign.”

However, Stone observes, Trump Organization properties were profiting from his campaigning well before his 2020 campaign. Citing data from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Stone points out that “Trump-allied political committees and the Republican Party have spent a whopping $18.1m at Trump properties since he launched his 2016 campaign. Republican candidates, elected officials and PACs have ponied up another $1.2m in the same period.”

Stone adds that the biggest spender was Donald J. Trump for President, followed by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Trump Victory.

Sheila Krumholz, who heads CRP, told The Guardian, “The usual sprint for campaign cash, combined with the additional opportunity for personal profit, appears to have added to an environment of lax vetting, leading to concerns about foreign money and indictments for campaign finance violations.”

This article first appeared on AlterNet.