While it may have been odd for President Donald Trump to start campaigning for 2020 as early as February, it is less surprising (and certainly characteristic) that his re-election campaign and joint party committees have given a great deal of his fundraising money to the president's own companies.
Of the $6.3 million spent by President Trump during the first three months of 2017, nearly $500,000 went to hotels, golf clubs, and restaurants owned by the Trump business empire, according to new campaign finance disclosures reported by The Wall Street Journal. This includes $274,013 to rent in Trump Tower, $58,685 for lodging at the Trump International Golf Course in Florida, and $13,828 for facility rental and catering at the Trump International Hotel in Nevada.
This is consistent with the practices of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. At that time, both his campaign and the Republican National Committee spent more than $14 million on either Trump-owned companies or reimbursement toward his children for travel expenses. During the transition, they made it clear that they would continue to intermingle Republican Party business with Trump's own businesses, such as having Mike Pence host a Heritage Foundation event at Trump International Hotel in Washington.
The Trump campaign's biggest expenditures include online marketing ($1.5 million went to a web-marketing firm owned by Brad Parscale, the campaign's digital director) and merchandise ($1.2 million went toward hats, T-shirts, mugs, and other campaign paraphernalia).
"The Journal reported this month that the Trump campaign raised more than $3 million in the first quarter, about three-quarters of which came from donations of $200 or less," the Journal reported. "The overall haul was about triple what President Barack Obama raised in his first quarter in office, aided by near-daily fundraising emails."