We’ve all heard the adage “follow the money”. It usually is the best way to determine what in actuality is going on. No where is that more true than in politics. At the end of May, the Republicans were about to light their hair on fire when it was revealed that the Trump campaign only had about $1.3 million in the campaign war chest as opposed to Ms. Clinton’s $42 million. In June and July, Trump closed the gap and started to raise funds but Clinton was still outpacing him. According to the campaigns, Trump has raised $131 million since June 1 and Clinton has raised $159 million. So the question becomes, what is happening to the money? We know that on the June expenditure report, $6 million of Trump’s war chest went back to Trump owned companies. $423,000 to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida presumably for rental for campaign events, $520,000 for rent and utilities at Trump Tower in New York for campaign offices, $26,000 to rent Trump National in Miami for a campaign event in January, $11,000 for rental of a ballroom at Trump’s hotel in Chicago, and $4.6 million to TAG Air, the holding company for Trump’s airplanes. In addition to that, $5,000 went to Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing, LLC to pay for wines used at campaign functions and the campaign also paid a company owned by a board member of Eric Trump’s charitable foundation $4.7 million for hats and t-shirts used in the campaign. Some of this spending may look bad for the candidate but not illegal under current campaign finance laws. It should be noted that the $50 million Trump infused into his campaign during the primaries was forgiven and counts as his contribution to the campaign. The only thing to glean by this so far is that Donald Trump is watching out for his own business interests and taking care of his friends. Should we expect more from his Presidency?
The question now is, where and how will the campaign war chest be spent. So far, it seems that the only use for the money has been to try an raise more campaign cash. There has been very little spending on television ads and reports are surfacing that campaign offices in swing states are not adequately equipped and staffed. There has been some movement in the digital ad space but still no ad buy of television spots while the Clinton campaign is aggressively advertising in swing states and Nationally most notable during the Olympic Games now in progress.
The Trump campaign does seem to be rewriting the rules as it pertains to Presidential campaigning but the “rules” exist because in large part, they seem to work. Money moves polls as much as polls move money is a favorite mantra inside the political world and the proof is playing out in front of our eyes. Since the Clinton campaign has been aggressively putting their message in front of the American people, their poll numbers are on the rise. I can’t yet decide if Trump is crazy like a fox or just crazy. I suppose we shall find out on November 8th.