Let the record show that I've never had an opportunity to use 'monkeys with flamethrowers' in a headline before so I immediately jumped at the chance.
The Trump campaign entered the election year with a billon dollars in their war chest, but they burned through most of it before we even reached the summer. Just recently, the Trump campaign was forced to cancel ad spending in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio because they can't afford it.
So, how did that happen?
It's apparently pretty easy to burn through a billion dollars when you spend a significant portion of it on yourself. The Associated Press reports that the Trump campaign funneled a lot of money between limited liability companies (LLCs) or third parties to hide the true nature of the spending and where it went, but at least some of those expenses can be discerned from what is public.
Here are just a few of the ways the campaign spent cash identified by the Associated Press:
— Nearly $100,000 spent on copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s book “Triggered,” which helped propel it to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.
— Over $7.4 million spent at Trump-branded properties since 2017.
— At least $35.2 million spent on Trump merchandise.
— $912,000 spent on ads that ran on the personal Facebook pages of Parscale and Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson.
— A $250,000 ad run during Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, which came after Trump was booed by spectators when he attended Game 5.
— At least $218,000 for Trump surrogates to travel aboard private jets provided by campaign donors.
— $1.6 million on TV ads in the Washington, D.C., media market, an overwhelmingly Democratic area where Trump has little chance of winning but where he is a regular TV watcher.
The campaign has also spent money in legitimate but wasteful ways, of course, and the examples cited above do not equal a billion dollars, but you get the point. While the Trump campaign has spent a lot of money on the actual campaign, the Trump family and his top lieutenants have also been skimming off the top.
Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, using campaign money to buy ad space on his own Facebook page is particularly brazen, but I suppose that's small potatoes compared to the fleet of luxury cars, boats, and apartments he spent the proceeds on.
The campaign is going to hide it for as long as they can, but the Associated Press identified $300 million in spending on campaign vendors that could very well be Trump-owned entities for all we know. It's too early and will remain too early to count our chickens until Trump is officially voted out but, if he does lose, I expect we'll see a lot of fingers pointed at everyone not named Trump. Parscale is definitely finished and may end up in prison.
It's incovievable that financial haven't been committed, but if they haven't that would just demonstrate the need for campaign finance reform.
“They spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff and vanity ads way too early,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant who advised John McCain and Jeb Bush and is an outspoken Trump critic. “You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly."
It's up to everyone to vote.