The Trump campaign is paying almost half a million dollars a year to rent space out of Trump Tower.
Even though the Trump campaign has empty office space in Arlington, Virginia, it's still paying nearly half a million dollars to rent space in the Trump Tower in New York. An investigation from HuffPost published Monday reveals that only four or five staffers are using the space in New York, but that hasn't stopped Trump from allowing campaign funds to line his own pockets.
One reason Trump may need to divert the funds would be to help financially prop up his namesake building in New York City, which has seen occupants flee while Trump is in office. Trump Tower boasted a 99% occupancy rate seven years ago, but that number is down to 83%, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg also noted that Trump's vacancy rate is twice the Manhattan average.
As Trump's toxic brand drives people out of his buildings, Trump's campaign has been spending lavishly at Trump Tower. During 2017 and 2018, the campaign spent more than $890,000 in rent for office space there, and it continues to pay $37,500 each month, according to HuffPost,
HuffPost was unable to deduce precisely how much office space the campaign is using in Trump Tower, but it reported that journalists touring office space the campaign shares with the Republican National Committee in Arlington noticed that "most of the desks sit unoccupied — waiting for the election season when hiring is set to ramp up for both the RNC and the Trump campaign."
Trump pledged to remove himself from his namesake organization when he took office, but he never followed through on that pledge and still makes money from his properties in New York, Washington, D.C., Florida, and other places around the world.
This current incidence of grift from the Trump campaign is nothing new. As of December 2018, the Trump campaign had funneled more than $1.1 million into Trump-branded properties.
Though Trump's actions may be technically legal, Robert Weissman, president of government watchdog group Public Citizen, told HuffPost that the waste of campaign funds to pad Trump's bottom line are a "consequential betrayal," especially when "so much of it comes from small donors for whom the donations are a real financial expense."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.