In May, former president Donald Trump’s endorsement will be put to the test in primary states. But despite him being out of office for more than a year, many candidates continue to spend money at the former president’s properties, directly benefiting him.
The Independent compiled data from Federal Election Commission filings since the beginning of 2021 to the end of March 2022, the most recent FEC data available. FEC filings show that Republican candidates – both incumbent and challengers – spent $1.28m at Mr Trump’s properties in Florida, New York, California, Washington DC and Las Vegas.
One of the biggest sources of revenue was Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, where the former president has de-camped. Since 2021, candidates have spent more than $700,000 at the Palm Beach club – some of them after receiving his endorsement, as was the case with Representative Ted Budd, who is running for Senate in North Carolina.
Mr Budd’s campaign used a site fee/food and beverage transaction as an in-kind contribution to the Budd Victory $4,915.31. Budd Victory also spent $14,745.94 on an event at Mar-a-Lago.
Similarly, Alaska’s Kelly Tshibaka, who is running against Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Mr Trump for his role in the January 6 insurrection, spent $14,477.10 at Mar-a-Lago this most recent fundraising quarter, back in February, for facility rental and catering services.
But Mar-A-Lago is not the only property where Mr Trump makes a healthy amount of money.
Plenty of Republicans also patronise Mr Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC. Altogether in the past year, Republican candidates, PACs and even the Republican National Committee have spent slightly less than $26,000 at the Trump International Hotel.
Some of Mr Trump’s most devout loyalists in Congress have spent their campaign cash at the hotel.
Representative Matt Gaetz, one of Mr Trump’s biggest apologists while in office, spent $1,400 exactly at the Washington hotel. Texas Representative Ronny Jackson was Mr Trump’s White House physician, whom the former president tried to nominate to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs before he was sunk by allegations of inappropriate behavior, which led to him running for Congress. Since he was sworn in, Dr Jackson’s spent a little more than $6,500 at the Washington hotel.
The leadership PAC for Representative Madison Cawthorn, the embattled Republican congressman who has come under fire for unethical behavior in recent weeks, spent $1,386.20 on 29 October.
Similarly, former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, whom Mr Trump endorsed to run against Democratic incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, spent $1,505 in travel at the hotel.
Other Republican candidates patronise Mr Trump’s properites when they are seeking to his favour.
Multiple candidates in Missouri’s Senate race to replace retiring Senator Roy Blunt have visited Trump properites. Representative Billy Long’s campaign spent $1,874.74 over two days at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. Former Governor Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace after allegations he sexually blackmailed a woman by tying her up and blindfolding her, reimbursed former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn more than $4,000 for expenses he racked up at Mar-a-Lago and at Trump International Palm Beach.
Other Trump allies have spent money at his other properties. Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert – who made remarks implying that Representative Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim, is a terrorist – spent more than $3,900 at Mr Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas alongside other transactions at his Washington, DC hotel.
Throughout Mr Trump’s presidency, foreign leaders frequented his hotel properties, likely as a means of currying favour with then then-president. In the year after he left office, House Democrats sent a letter to the General Services Administration saying that it calculated that foreign governments paid a total of $3.75m and that it likely represents about more than 7,400 room nights purchased by foreign governments.