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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Thursday morning press release from Donald Trump’s campaign announced that he would be writing off the loans he has financed his campaign with for months. But the press release had an interesting little Trumpian quirk:

trump press release

Within a single statement, Trump claims to be donating himself “more than $50 million,” “nearly $50 million,” and “in excess of $50 million.”

The actual answer? At last count (through the end of May) Trump had loaned his campaign $45,703,185. And though the press release says he now considers these loans donations, Trump has a history of claiming to have donated to charity cases without actually doing so.

A Reuters report on the loan write-off quotes Gaylord Hughey, a Texas-based fundraiser supporting Trump, who called the move “unprecedented.” 

Actually, it’s extremely precedented. Rich people have been donating money to their campaigns since campaigns existed: Think of the Kennedys, or Ross Perot, or Mitt Romney, who in the 2008 Republican primary loaned (and later, donated) his campaign $44.6 million, nearly the same as Trump’s donation.

A small note: Even after writing off these loans, assuming he does, Trump hasn’t fully self-funded his primary campaign — he’s sold millions of dollars in merchandise and has accepted millions more in loans small and very, very large. He has tacitly accepted the help of super PACs and, after becoming the Republican nominee, has behaved the same as any other politician: He goes on fundraising tours, speaks at $25,000-a-plate dinners, wears funny cowboy hats, sends desperate emails, and changes his views on policy ideas — like defaulting on the national debt, an absolutely insane concept — that upset wealthy donors.

So no, Donald Trump never self-funded his campaign, and he still is not self-funding his campaign. Still, if in fact he does forgive $50 million $47 million in loans to himself, he deserves a great deal of credit.

Even for a “billionaire,” that’s a lot of money to throw away at a doomed campaign.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Video: Donald Trump’s Facebook page

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