Those donating to Donald Trump’s 2020 election fund are directly plugging a financial hole in Trump’s struggling real estate “empire.” With more and more of Trump Tower turning into the vertical equivalent of a failing suburban mall, Trump’s campaign is filling up that space. And his campaign is routing funds right back into Trump’s pockets.
Since the 2016 election, tenants have been bailing out of leases at Trump Tower. For individuals, both plunging property values and increasing hassle have been good reasons for departing. For companies, keeping a store or office in a building that’s become a gold-plated icon of support for racism, sexism, and climate crisis denial has become a black eye they really don’t need. As both networks and publications have raised the visibility of those choosing to site their operations in Trump property, Trump Tower has become “one of the least desirable” luxury buildings in New York City.
Not only are those who live or work there dealing with increased security, road blocks, and limited access, but they’re also finding that the building that was sold to them as a luxury property hasn’t been updated in four decades. Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel has been bolstered by injections of cash from guests who want to please Trump before a White House visit—especially corporations and foreign officials—but people leaving Trump Tower have found themselves taking a brutal 20% loss on the building’s cratering property values.
HuffPost reports that Trump’s campaign is now channeling $37,000 a month into renting the increasingly available empty space in Trump Tower. This isn’t the first time. During the 2016 campaign, Trump rented space in his own building, with the campaign paying top dollar for unfinished space that lacked such niceties as bathrooms, fixtures, or walls. The campaign also funneled funds through payments for catering that went back to Trump. And payments for hotel rooms that went back to Trump.
What is Trump getting for $37,000 a month in Trump Tower? Working space for “4 or 5” members of his campaign staff. Because, sure, $9,000 a month per person is a fine rate for office space in New York. But even that seems to be overstating it. What that $37,000 really seems to finance is occasional visits from a member of the campaign team, just long enough to generate a bill.
And with another 41,000 square feet of empty space currently open in Trump Tower, there’s always room to increase that bill.