Donors contributing to President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign aren't funding campaign ads or bumper stickers. They're funding his personal legal team, and his business empire.
In a list of itemized expenditures for the final quarter of 2017, a Federal Elections Commission filing revealed that the campaign had 19 different expenses listed as "Legal Consulting," amounting to more than $1.1 million in total fees. Curiously, three of these 19 legal consulting expenses — each one for $9,510 and amounting to $28,530 in total — went to "The Trump Corporation." Thirteen expenses in total (including the three for legal consulting) went to entities that had Trump in the name for everything from rent and lodging to meals, equaling more than $50,000 overall.
When it came to the legal fees, the Trump campaign spent $832,765 on Jones Day and $214,467 on McDermott Will & Emery. Jones Day represented Trump during the campaign and McDermott Will & Emery is representing Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, in the Russia investigation, according to Politico.
It already poses a significant conflict of interest for Trump to spend campaign donations on his personal businesses, as it creates the appearance that he is personally profiting from his electioneering efforts. In addition to that, it is unorthodox for legal consulting fees to be spent at the Trump Organization, at the very least raising the possibility that there is an unseemly co-mingling of Trump's business operations with those of his political campaign.
Pat Dennis of American Bridge, a progressive super PAC, took to Twitter on Wednesday to explain other suspicious details in Trump's FEC filings.
Trump has been dogged by accusations that he has improperly mixed his personal businesses with his political responsibilities since taking office. For instance, the Trump International Hotel has done business with a number of politicians, partisan groups and wealthy businessmen who could all conceivably abuse their financial relationship with the president in order to unduly influence him.