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Those wild-eyed socialists at Forbes magazine sure do have a knack for embarrassing "billionaire" Donald Trump. Earlier this year the magazine looked at some of his millions of dollars in real estate sales to untraceable buyers, and of course we all know how much fun it was to point out Trump's net worth is dropping during his presidency, no matter how much the guy grifts. Wednesday, the same reporter who brought us those fun reports, Dan Alexander, dipped into Trump's federal financial reporting documents again to reveal various Trump Organization entities have billed his 2020 reelection effort some $1.3 million -- just since he took office. None of those silly "I'm a really rich guy" or "I'm self funding" lies this time around (though of course they were mostly lies the first time around, too). He may not be getting rich off the presidency, but he'll probably cover at least a few trips to McDonalds.

Since Trump was sworn in, the biggest recipient of Trump 2020 funding -- most of it from the schlubs who answer fundraising emails asking for help building WALL or rounding up Messicans or jailing Hillary Clinton or sending Robert Mueller to Gitmo -- has gone to "Trump Tower Commercial LLC," the holding company through which Big Bother manages his share of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Another $225,000 in rent to Trump Tower Commercial LLC came from the Republican National Committee. So right there, you have the biggest chunk of cash.


In addition, Alexander found some other mysterious expenditures, like $54,000 in rent going to "Trump Plaza LLC, which controls a property that includes two brownstone apartment buildings in New York City." Funny thing, though: There's no campaign office there. Forbes even "staked out the property for 14 hours on a November day," but came away none the wiser, though perhaps at least some wealth trickled down to local food vendors. Nor were the buildings' residents or staff especially helpful, possibly because they know what's good for 'em:

A person working behind the front desk couldn't make sense of it either. "If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it." Six residents also said they had never seen any indication of the campaign in the buildings.

The closest Alexander could get to an answer came from "A 2016 campaign staffer [who] said people sometimes crashed at an apartment there when they were in town." That's surprisingly unsatisfying -- LEAKS PLEASE BUT NO PEE TAPES.

Then there's a line identifying $60,000 in rent paid from the 2020 campaign to "Trump Restaurants LLC," another holding company that seems to operate in Trump Tower: "The building's website, which features a handful of Trump-branded eateries, includes a page of legal disclaimers for Trump Restaurants LLC." So what's the rent going to? Alexander went off to the Palace of Ugly to do some shoe leather and trashy souvenir stand reporting!

Inside the building lie clues to the purpose of the payments. Near Trump Grill and Trump's Ice Cream Parlor, there's a kiosk where tourists can buy T-shirts, hats and other campaign memorabilia. The fine print at the bottom of a poster next to the stand says, "Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc."—the official name for the president's 2020 campaign committee.

Doing a little back-of-the-taco-bowl math, Alexander figured the space where the kiosk sits goes for $3000 a month, or

$600 per square foot in annual rent. For comparison, Gucci rents prime space upstairs, along Fifth Avenue, for only $440 per square foot, according to an analysis of a debt prospectus obtained by Forbes.

Real estate experts Alexander consulted were mixed on whether that's a good price or not. One said "that's robbery," but two others figured it wasn't out of line "since smaller spaces often command higher rates on a per-square-foot basis." The Trump campaign, of course, insisted that all rents it pays stick to fair market rates, and who's to say whether there's anything fishy here?

The piece ends with a note that the garbage kiosk rent is unlikely to be so obviously outside the norm that the Federal Election Commission would take notice, let alone investigate, and that Trump probably "should be free to continue shifting his supporters' money into his business for the rest of the election cycle."

Which is nice, of course, and we're sure Donald Trump has Top Men (in his case, probably all men) working on making sure there's the appearance of legality. Of course, we also can't forget that fabulous scam Trump's daddy and the rest of the family ran to transfer huge chunks of Fred Trump's wealth to his children without paying a cent of inheritance tax. Remember how the New York Times found all those records showing the Trumplets created a shell company to sell equipment and supplies to Fred's real estate company at a huge markup, pocketing the difference?

If we could do a half-decent Peter Falk impression, this would be the place where we'd say, "I don't know, it's just a thought that came to me for some reason. It's probably nothing. You have a nice day, now, OK?"

[Forbes]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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