Within the last couple of weeks, the Trump campaign has started to feel the heat regarding their claim that he “self funded” his campaign. In the first place, it’s just not true as a factual matter, because Trump did solicit and receive several million dollars in donations from his supporters. Granted, way less than other candidates, but it still happened.
But more importantly, now that Trump is in bed with the special interests and big donors who he claimed were controlling Jeb Bush, many people have started to point out that he can just use some of this money that he is raising with the RNC to pay himself back. Trump and his spokespeople have sought to defray this controversy by claiming that Trump does not expect to be repaid the money he has given the campaign and considers it a contribution.
The problem is that there’s a lot of wiggle room in the verbiage Trump’s spokesmen are using. “Doesn’t expect to be repaid” doesn’t mean he wont accept repayment, if offered. And in fact, Trump can foreclose the possibility of being repaid by officially converting the loan to a donation, which requires one line to be included on an FEC form. As of the most recent filing, however, Trump has still not done that.
Moreover, as NBC notes, Trump is still doing fundraisers for primary expenditures:
The campaign’s new fundraisers, however, also appear to leave the door open to reimbursing Trump for his loans.
Trump is appearing at his first joint Republican National Committee fundraiser next week. According to an invite obtained by the Los Angeles Times, “the invitation notes the first $2,700 raised will go to Trump’s primary campaign.”
The primary campaign is over, and the campaign’s only outstanding loan debts are to Trump, not any other parties.
When asked about that fundraising invitation on Friday, Hicks did not dispute its accuracy, and declined any further comment.
Now here, NBC is being a little coy with the facts. Sure, the primary campaign is over in the sense that Trump has no opponents left in the race who have not suspended their campaigns. However, in virtually every election ever, candidates who are not even running in primaries continue to collect primary contributions and spend them as though they were primary contributions until they officially become the party’s nominee for a given office. This is why Republicans in the last election cycle held their convention so late, so that Romney could blanket the airwaves in the last two months of the campaign with general election funds.
Still, it’s at least troubling that Trump shows no apparent interest in actually making his promise to self-fund for the primary binding in any way. Or at least, it’s “troubling” if you believed this promise in the first place.