Back in June, Republican strategist Rick Wilson labeled Trump’s campaign a “scampaign,” noting Trump’s refusal to forgive his own campaign debt as well as the amount of money he was paying himself to rent out property he owned for campaign events. In mid-June, for instance, Trump paid himself a hair over $420,000 (nice) to rent out his Mar-a-Lago resort. Although Trump forgave $50 million in campaign debt in June, the scam narrative has persisted, in part because many of Trump’s moves—his insistence that the election will be “rigged” and his courting of Roger Ailes, for instance—suggest that he’s looking for ways to profit beyond the election, like starting his own media company.
Two months later, the scampaign continues. The Wall Street Journal reports that “$15 million, or about 17 percent of the roughly $90 million spent through July—paid to companies linked to himself or his children, or to reimburse their travel expenses.” At best, this commitment to using Trump facilities suggests a Ross Perot-esque mix of micromanagement and inexperience. That, it seems, is the Trump campaign’s explanation. “It makes perfect sense to me that you’re going to use facilities that you know are of a certain quality,” Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump campaign, told the WSJ. Asked about Trump’s reliance on advisers without presidential experience (half of Trump’s top ten consultants have never worked on a presidential campaign), McGahn said, “Trump wants people with fire in the belly. Loyalty is right up there at the top.”
At worst, it suggests that Trump is actively trying to profit from his presidential run. Back in 2000, he told Fortune, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” He might just make good on that prediction.
This post has been updated.