Republican political campaigns increased their spending at President Donald Trump’s businesses by 15 percent this year, according to federal figures compiled by the watchdog group Public Citizen.
The Republican National Committee and various GOP political action committees spent close to $388,000 disclosed so far in the three-month period ending in March at Trump properties in South Florida, Manhattan, Chicago and around Washington, D.C., Federal Election Commission filings show. That compares to about $339,000 during the same period last year, a 14.5 percent jump.
The spending is part of more than $15 million that has flowed to the Trump Organization and connected entities since 2015 from political donors and the federal government, according to Public Citizen.
Some of the money has been used to purchase food and beverages from Trump’s winery, flights aboard Trump’s airplanes, and lodging in Trump’s hotels. The figures represent revenue, not net income. “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” Trump told Fortune magazine in 2000.
Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump handed control of his businesses to his longtime lieutenants, including his sons, but he still owns them. Ethics experts have called on Trump to either sell off his holdings or place them in a blind trust to avoid the possibility that his administration could be helping his business interests turn a profit.
About 90 percent of the money that has come in since 2015 was spent by Trump’s political campaign committees, according to Public Citizen’s figures, and most of the $15 million was spent on airfare for Trump’s various flights during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump’s campaign didn’t report any spending at his properties so far in 2018.