Donald Trump Used Campaign Donations To Buy $55,000 Worth Of Copies Of His Own Book
When it comes to spending collected campaign money, there are more than a few rules by which candidates must abide. Donald Trump used donations to buy his own books, which, surprisingly enough, does not violate that many of the regulations enforced by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Here's what's going down.
On May 10, Trump's campaign purchased copies of the candidate's 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, from Barnes & Noble, to the tune of $55,055. According to the campaign, those books were placed in gift bags given to Republican National Convention (RNC) delegates in July.
In comparison, a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's camp told The Daily Beast that the liberal crew had "probably purchased a copy or two just to have in the office, but the campaign has never purchased her book in bulk or anything close to that."
Trump's campaign is truly a different kind of monster. As The Daily Beast points out, "[n]o other presidential candidate in history has had access to such a vast universe of self-titled business to frequent during their campaign." Trump owns restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and a private jet line, among other things. Because FEC regulations stipulate that campaign money may not be used in any way that lines the pockets of the candidate, the Republican nominee's spending habits frequently flirt with the line that delineates federal law.
There's nothing inherently wrong with a candidate purchasing bulk copies of their own books. In 2014, the FEC ruled that Wisconsin Congressman "Paul Ryan’s campaign committee and leadership PAC may purchase, distribute and promote the Congressman’s book [sic]," provided the candidate did not spend campaign dollars promoting his book, and did not receive royalties for the volumes purchased by his camp. Instead, Ryan elected to pay out of pocket for promotional emails, and his publisher donated royalties to an unrelated charity.
It's currently unclear whether Trump received royalties from his campaign's purchase of Crippled America. But book publicist Ben Bruton called the behavior "suspicious," saying that publishers are generally happy to donate a set amount of copies for an event, and then to offer a standard discount on any other volumes needed. Buying Crippled America in bulk from Barnes & Noble would artificially inflate the book's sales rankings and generate royalties for the author. Bruton told The Daily Beast that he thinks Trump's purchasing pattern "was definitely an attempt to both make money and to get onto the best-seller list."