Ever wonder what happens to the money you donate to nonprofits and political causes? Some organizations and websites exist solely to help you choose which charities to support, typically basing their ratings on the percentage of donations that go directly to programs rather than salaries and other overhead costs.
But what if you want to track your donation to Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again PAC? How does a dollar go from your PayPal account to a beaver dam-sized McRib ‘n’ Bubblicious blockage in Trump’s sigmoid colon?
Well, for that, you pretty much have to rely on reporting from the indefatigable David Fahrenthold et al. at The Washington Post. In reality, it’s a pretty simple process: You donate to Trump’s PAC, Trump funnels that money to his empire through one of his businesses, and the long-anticipated McRib bacchanal begins in earnest.
In a new look at both Trump’s PAC and his eponymous tower of broken dreams, Fahrenthold and Crew tick off several businesses that once called Trump Tower home but have since fallen on hard times. There’s Marcraft Clothes, which went out of business last year; Legacy Business School, an outfit once chaired by reality TV matriarch Kris Jenner that was nearly $200,000 behind in rent by October 2020; and Marc Fisher Footwear, a former Ivanka Trump supplier that once occupied the entire 21st floor of Trump Tower—and part of 22nd. It eventually fell $1.5 million behind in rent before vacating the premises.
So who’s still paying rent in Trump Tower? Well, Trump, of course … and, indirectly, his phalanx of horse-paste-eating, MAGA-chanting fanboys.
The Washington Post:
[A]s Trump Tower has dealt with imploding tenants, political backlash and a broader, pandemic-related slump in Manhattan office leasing since last year — it has been able to count on one reliable, high-paying tenant: former president Donald Trump’s own political operation.
Starting in March, one of his committees, Make America Great Again PAC, paid $37,541.67 per month to rent office space on the 15th floor of Trump Tower — a space previously rented by his campaign — according to campaign-finance filings and a person familiar with the political action committee.
This may not be the most efficient use of donors’ money: The person familiar with Trump’s PAC said that its staffers do not regularly use the office space. Also, for several months, Trump’s PAC paid the Trump Organization $3,000 per month to rent a retail kiosk in the tower’s lobby — even though the lobby was closed.
“This might not be the most efficient use of donors’ money.” Really? So plowing cash into Donald Trump’s personal porn star-payoff slush fund isn’t actually going to make America great? I’m having trouble following such logic.
While campaign finance experts contacted by The Post were careful to note that what Trump is doing doesn’t appear to be illegal because “[t]his kind of PAC has very few restrictions and no expiration date,” it’s nevertheless clearly unethical.
“He’s running a con,” said Paul S. Ryan, a vice president at campaign finance watchdog Common Cause. “Talking about political expenses—but, in reality, raising money for self-enrichment.”
Yeah, well, that’s not simply what Donald Trump does. It’s what he promised he would do, back when he was still contemplating whether to ruin all our lives for four solid years.
Of course, Trump has to do something to prop up his purpling carcass of a flagship building. According to The Post, the tower’s commercial spaces are just 75% occupied as of the first quarter of this year. COVID-19 has ravaged commercial properties across the country, but Trump’s building seems to have been hit harder than others in Manhattan. The current vacancy rate for such buildings throughout the borough is 18.4%. Trump’s insistence on fluffing up his numbers by keeping his PAC situated in Trump Tower appears to be little more than a way to bilk his followers and feather his own nest.
As The Post notes, the Make America Great Again PAC “appears to be a quiet tenant.” In fact, the space, which could be expected to accommodate about 30 employees, currently hosts just three. And according to sources The Post spoke with, those employees tend to work from home or out of one of Trump’s clubs. In fact, a Post reporter tried to visit the PAC’s office recently and was rebuffed by a security guard, who said there was no point in checking it out because “nobody would be there.”
But that’s not all! The Post also reports that Kelly Craft, a U.S. ambassador appointed by Trump, sought to direct government business to one of his hotels while he was still defiling the White House, further exposing the years-long grift Trump was engaged in.
In November 2018, Craft — then the U.S. ambassador to Canada — received an email about an upcoming conference in Washington for ambassadors and other chiefs of mission. The email included a list of five recommended hotels in Washington that had blocks of rooms set aside for conference attendees, along with specially negotiated rates between $119 and $181 per night.
Craft apparently ignored those recommendations.
“Is this a meeting I should attend? If so, I would prefer the TRUMP HOTEL,” Craft wrote after forwarding the email to a staffer, referring to the Trump International Hotel, which was owned by Trump’s company and in a building leased from the federal government.
The watchdog group American Oversight, which obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act request, stated that Craft had used her position to “line the president’s pockets,” and cited the incident as “an example of the casual corruption that permeated the Trump administration and undermines confidence in the United States.”
Casual corruption? Nah. From where I sit, it seems like they were working pretty fucking hard at it.
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