Let’s end this myth, please.
After every one of Donald Trump’s campaign finance reports has become publicly available, the media breathlessly reports how much more money Trump has given his campaign.
In March, it was $11.5 million. So far in total, it’s $36 million.
A few weeks ago, I broke down why Donald Trump’s claim that he is “self-funding” his campaign is ridiculous: he’s loaning himself money at zero interest, not paying his campaign’s expenses outright, so that he can pay himself back in the future with money fundraised from his supporters.
Even if he were to pay off all of his loans with his own money — don’t count on it — Trump has so far received more than $12 million dollars in small (and large) contributions from his supporters, much of it through hat sales but some also in the form of maximum allowable cash donations. That’s not “self-funding,” not at all.
Candidates must also pay themselves for “in-kind,” or non-monetary, donations from companies that they own. In March, according to nj.com, Trump paid $476,426 to his own Tag Air — which has received more total Trump campaign money than anyone besides Rick Reed Media, Trump’s advertising people — $83,597 on Trump Tower, where his campaign is headquartered, and more than $4,000 for lodging at his own hotels.
But we haven’t even seen the start of it.
Assuming Trump wins the Republican Party nomination, it seems increasingly unlikely that he will continue “paying” for his campaign himself. In 2012, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s campaigns — and supportive outside groups including super PACs — spent more than a billion dollars each on the election.
This time, some estimate the total cost of electing a president may be twice as high.
Though Donald Trump has held his tax records extremely close to the chest, unless he has $2 billion lying around — and he’ll need all of it, against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — he will be forced to fundraise through more traditional channels: more high-dollar fundraisers, more mass appeals for donations from his supporters, and more accepting help from outside groups.
Don’t be surprised, amid all of that commotion, when we find out Trump’s $36 million in campaign debts to himself have suddenly… disappeared. And perfectly legally, too.