Earlier than any president before him, Trump filed his paperwork for re-election on Inauguration Day. While the whole concept of the “permanent campaign” is not new, no president has approached it with Trump’s gusto. Along with the paperwork, he has kept his Trump Tower campaign office open, held a series of “thank you tours” that looked awfully similar to campaign events, and led five post-inauguration rallies. Now, after six months in office, he is already tapping big money, headlining a fundraiser tonight at his infamous D.C. hotel. (For context, Barack Obama held his first re-election fundraiser in April 2011, two years after his inauguration.)
Tonight’s proceeds will go to Trump Victory, which is a joint fundraising effort between his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee. According to the event’s invitation, dinner costs $35,000 per person.
While this is the re-election campaign’s first high-dollar fundraiser, it has been raising money since Trump was sworn into office. By the end of March, Trump’s campaign had raised $7 million through small donations and sales of his Make America Great Again hats. Trump also spent roughly $6 million of that money in the first quarter—some of which has gone to his own businesses. This kind of self-dealing is not new: According to CNN, Trump’s 2016 campaign spent $12.5 million on his sprawling business empire.
Even though hosting the fundraiser at the property is not technically illegal, it should still raise red flags. Trump has visited his for-profit properties 37 times as president, a practice that allows him to have his official visits double as free advertising. He represents an unprecedented marriage between politics and business—the dinner will not only swell his campaign coffers, but also boost his business’s bottom line.