POLITICS
11/10/2018 11:22 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2018

GOP, Campaigns, PACs Spent $3.2 Million At Trump Properties In Midterm Cycle: Report

Trump International Hotel, Mar-a-Lago among president's operations that profited.

The Republican Party, campaigns and political action committees spent at least $3.2 million at properties owned or licensed by President Donald Trump’s companies, according to an analysis by CNN of Federal Election Commission records.

The Center for Responsive Politics has come up with a higher figure of $3.9 million for this election cycle.

The Republican National Committee spent at least $1.2 million at the properties since the start of 2017, CNN reported Saturday.

Half the money was spent on expenses at the Trump National Doral Miami, where party members met in the spring, and for “venue rental and catering” at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago golf resort for fundraising events there, according to CNN.

The emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or benefits from foreign leaders or governments to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Trump is the target of a lawsuit by Maryland and the District of Columbia accusing him of violating the emoluments clause by profiting from expenditures by foreign governments and officials at his Washington hotel. He’s also being sued over the same issue by Democratic senators and representatives.

Trump is also banned under the Constitution from accepting benefits from domestic governments beyond his legal compensation. An analysis by the Constitutional Accountability Center noted that the domestic emoluments clause could also be interpreted to include such things as tax benefits or foreign worker visas granted to Trump properties (where campaign dollars are spent).

Trump’s re-election campaign has spent nearly $1 million of donor money at Trump properties since 2017, CNN reported.

The pro-Trump super PAC America First Action spent $360,000 at Trump properties, according to FEC records. The PAC is primarily financed by casino billionaire and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. Trump just announced that Miriam Adelson will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the nation.

Long-shot candidates also spent a significant portion of their smaller budgets on Trump properties, hoping for lucrative networking, as well as a boost from the Trump name or even a drop-in by the president, The Washington Post reported earlier this month.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington has “kind of become the conservative clubhouse in Washington. It’s a draw,” said Corey Stewart, the former Republican candidate for Senate in Virginia who just lost to Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine.

The hotel is housed in Washington’s historic Old Post Office, which is owned by the federal government. Its lease includes a clause prohibiting any “elected official of the government of the United States” from deriving “any benefit” from the building. Yet Trump and his daughter Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, both retained their stakes in the property.

The new Democratic majority in the House is expected to take a closer look at Trump’s stake in the hotel and potential emoluments violations.

In 2015 and 2016 Trump properties collected $3.7 million from the GOP, campaigns and PACs. The Trump campaign spent just over $2 million at Trump properties during the presidential election cycle, according to CNN. 

Clarification: A previous version of this story suggested that one clause of the Constitution prevents the president from accepting gifts or benefits from domestic as well as foreign interests. In fact, there are two separate clauses covering such emoluments; one addresses foreign interests and one addresses domestic ones.

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