WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump used small donors’ money to buy nearly $300,000 worth of books from the publisher of his Art of the Deal last month, continuing a pattern of plowing campaign money back into his own businesses.
The Oct. 15 Federal Election Commission filing for Trump Make America Great Again Committee does not specify which books in particular were purchased, but the committee’s own website suggests it was Trump’s 1987 business bestseller.
“I’ve signed an out-of-print, hardcover copy of ‘The Art of the Deal’ just for you, because I want you on board with Team Trump!” Trump wrote in an Aug. 2 fundraising email, which went on to offer the book for a minimum donation of $184.
Trump’s statement calling the book “out-of-print,” repeated on the committee’s website, however, is false. The Art of the Deal had a new paperback edition printed last October, and the hardcover is currently in print and available from Random House and retail booksellers. Barnes and Noble, for example, sells it for $22.35.
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee is a joint fundraising operation between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. An RNC spokeswoman referred a question about the books to the Trump campaign, which did not return phone calls and emails requesting comment over a period of days. Random House representatives also did not respond to Huffington Post queries.
While a second joint Trump-RNC committee concentrates on large contributions, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee focuses on small-dollar donations using online and direct-mail fundraising. As of Sept. 30, 77 percent of all the money it raised came from donors who have given less than $200.
According to the committee’s Oct. 15 FEC filing, it paid Penguin/Random House $91,866 on Aug. 30, $98,975 on Sept. 1, and another $98,975 on Sept. 22. The purpose for all three was listed as: “Collateral: Books.”
The publishing house has printed five titles by Trump, including How to Get Rich and Think Like a Billionaire. The biggest seller, though, was The Art of the Deal, which was published in 1987 but has remained in print ever since. Trump frequently boasts about it in his campaign speeches, and it is the only one mentioned on the Trump fundraising website.
At the standard bulk discount offered by publishers, Trump’s fundraising committee could have purchased some 17,000 copies of the hardcover edition. Under a typical publishing contract, that quantity would generate over $70,000 in royalties, which Trump would have to split with his co-author.
According to Trump’s financial disclosure statement filed in May, Trump received between $50,000 and $100,000 in royalties for that title over the previous year.
The Daily Beast previously reported that Trump spent $55,000 in money from his own campaign to buy copies of his latest book, Crippled America, which was published by Simon and Schuster. Copies were distributed to GOP delegates attending the summer convention in Cleveland.
The purchase of books is just the latest example of Trump using donors’ money to purchase goods and services from his own businesses and generating personal profit for himself.
Trump houses his campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, where the campaign pays $169,758 a month for office space at about $100 per square foot. (The Clinton campaign, in contrast, rents two floors in a Brooklyn Heights office building for about $32 per square foot.)
Trump paid his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach $423,373 on the same day in May that his campaign finalized a deal with the RNC that began bringing him hundreds of millions of dollars of outside donations ― even though the only events he’d held there were two victory parties and an afternoon news conference two months earlier. He could have held those three events at nearby hotels for a total of about $40,000.
In July, Trump’s campaign sent $48,240 to his Westchester County golf course. The only event it had hosted for him was a June 7 victory party. Trump could have used a ballroom at a nearby Marriott hotel for less than half that much.
And Trump’s insistence on using his own personal Boeing 757 jet is now costing taxpayers millions of dollars extra. Because Trump’s Secret Service detail is making up a large percentage ― and on some days even a majority ― of the flying passengers, the agency must pay a proportionate share of the $10,000-an-hour flying costs.
Had Trump chosen to charter a more suitable airliner that would accommodate his staff, his security detail and his traveling press corps, as both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and previous GOP nominees have done, he could have driven down the costs for everyone.
Trump’s staff has defended his decisions to spend more at his own businesses rather than use less-expensive alternatives by pointing out that he is contributing $2 million a month to his own campaign.
That $2 million figure, however, is dwarfed by the many tens of millions of dollars per month coming to Trump’s campaign from both large and small donors.