Here’s one way for campaign contributors to finance a lifestyle: Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again PAC’s eye-popping $37,561 per month rent at Trump Tower in Manhattan covers office space for just three employees, The Washington Post reported Friday.
“This may not be the most efficient use of donors’ money,” quipped the Post, which noted that the 5,490-square-foot space on Trump Tower’s 15th floor could comfortably accommodate 30 workers. The three employees the PAC lists there often work from home, according to the Post. A security guard told a visiting Post reporter on a weekday that no one was in the office.
HuffPost reported the massive rent payments last month, noting that Trump’s campaign committee paid the same amount for the same office all four years he was in the White House, even though the campaign headquarters were in Virginia. The MAGA political action committee is essentially a reformulation of Trump’s campaign committee.
At Trump Tower, meanwhile, other key tenants have either quit the building or fallen far behind on their hefty rents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company that once manufactured footwear for former first daughter Ivanka Trump, for example, was $1.4 million in arrears, according to a lawsuit filed by the Trump Organization earlier this year. Marc Fisher Footwear used to occupy the entire 22nd floor and part of the 23rd floor in the formerly trendy Fifth Avenue highrise that used to be Trump’s primary residence and the setting for his “Apprentice” reality series.
The MAGA PAC took over Trump Tower offices in March that the Trump campaign once occupied. For several months, it also paid $3,000 a month to the Trump Organization to rent a retail kiosk in the building’s lobby — even though the lobby was closed — the Post reported, citing federal campaign filings and sources.
Believe it or not, the self-serving payments don’t appear to be illegal. The PAC has few restrictions with no expiration date, leaving Trump free to spend its money on his own businesses for “as long as he wants,” according to the Post.
That doesn’t mean it’s not wrong, critics noted.
“He’s running a con,” Paul Ryan, a campaign finance expert at the watchdog group Common Cause, told the Post. “Talking about political expenses — but, in reality, raising money for self-enrichment.”
Liz Harrington, a spokesperson for Trump’s political operation, defended the rent.
“We are paying market rate for leased office space used to help President Trump build a financial juggernaut to help elect ‘America First’ conservatives,” she told the Post.
Trump, the first president to hang on to his businesses and brazenly promote them in the White House, has often steered taxpayer, campaign and GOP money into his own pockets.
In just one instance, he arranged a lavish trip to his golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, for his family and their entourage after meeting with Queen Elizabeth in London in 2018. Former Vice President Mike Pence also went out of his way to stay at Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, during an official trip to Dublin in 2019.
Various PACS, supporters and the Republican Party have spent millions of dollars at conferences and parties at Trump properties, from Mar-a-Lago to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. And Trump is currently hitting the Secret Service with stratospheric lodging costs at his own golf resorts.
When Trump mused about running for the White House in an interview with Fortune magazine in 2000, he predicted he would be the “first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.