Trump Is NOT Self-Funding His Campaign

Despite his claims, he's Collected Millions in Contributions

Trump Is NOT Self-Funding His Campaign
February 26, 2016

Donald Trump has broken the mold in many ways with his presidential campaign, with plenty of room for argument about whether that is a good or bad development. (In fact, the style of argument is one of the political molds he has broken... arguably.) However, it appears that his claim of breaking the political chains through self-funding his campaign does not hold up to scrutiny.

A study of his Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings shows that a significant amount of Trump's campaign funds originates from donors, contrary to his claims. Trump has made repeated assertions that his campaign is self-funded, similar to his quote at a Las Vegas rally in October that "I'm self-funding my own campaign" and "I don't think I get enough credit for self-funding."

His self-funding line was repeated as recently as in the scrappy and contentious GOP presidential debate held in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 13th (ironically held at the Peace Center). disputes Trump’s claims, pointing out that his 2015 year-end filing in January shows $19.4 million in campaign income, with $12.6 million of that coming in via candidate loans. Thus, approximately one-third of his campaign funds have arrived via donations. The year-end filing shows $1.6 million in itemized individual contributions and another $4.9 million in unitemized ones.

It is also important to remember that as the bulk of Trump's campaign contribution is in loans instead of donations, he can potentially get that back. There is no rule that says his spending has to come specifically from either donations or his own funds. As of the end of 2015, the campaign had spent $12.4 million, meaning that a bit over half of the expenses to date could be covered by contributions from donors.

98% of those disbursements were for operating expenses, while the remainder was covered by individual refunds (for example, refunding individual or in-kind donations that surpass legal limits), or transfers to authorized committees (generally to state committees to cover ballot access fees in their states). Those transfers for ballot fees were slightly over $173,000 as of the end of 2015.

The most recent FEC filing covering January spending continues that trend. Contributions through January 31 outside of loans total almost $7.75 million, with $1.87 million in itemized and $5.63 million in unitemized donations. The campaign raked in close to $1 million in January alone, and with the Republican field finally starting to narrow (five as of this writing thanks to Jeb Bush's departure from the race), it's entirely possible that an even greater percentage of available donations will come Trump's way.

Spending ramped up dramatically over January to almost $11.5 million, almost doubling the total to date and pushing expenditures up to $24 million. As we head into the all-important Super Tuesday primaries on March 1, expect Trump's spending to increase even more. The self-funded component of his campaign will likely take on a greater percentage of his campaign expenses, but it is still misleading to call his campaign completely self-funded.

As the winner of nearly all of the Republican Presidential battles so far, there is no doubt Trump is winning in a way few people have envisioned. But according to his last filing, the billionaire has contributed only $250,318 to his campaign. Does that sound “Huuuuuge” to you? Unless Trump intends to refund all donations and pay all his campaign expenses out of loans (a scenario beyond unlikely), his campaign does indeed depend on donor support.

Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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Erin | 02.26.16 @ 21:01
Color me shocked. I didn't think the state of politics could get any more embarrassing for the US, but this guy had to go and prove me wrong.
Carla | 02.26.16 @ 21:02
I have suspected this all along. Candidates need to be truthful. The truth will get him farther.
Sarah | 02.26.16 @ 21:03
well... I don't know. It's a shame he feels the need to say one thing and do another but that, right there, is politics.
Alec | 02.26.16 @ 21:05
It's a shame he's allowed to lie about his spendings like that. Trump is an absolutely terrifying candidate and if he becomes president, I'm scared to see what will happen to the US. He's very vocal about his beliefs and policies. With people throwing so much money at him and him being allowed to keep his, it's making the situation a lot more volatile.
Beverly | 02.26.16 @ 21:08
I never believed he was self funded to begin with. It's a shame so many people have their blinders are, but there is a lot of rage going n in this country right now and there isn't an honest politician, or candidate, to be found anywhere.
Steffanie | 02.26.16 @ 21:12
He's a politician. Truth has a different meaning for them.
Ron | 02.26.16 @ 21:12
Did anyone actually believe Donald Trump? A good businessman uses other people's money to pay his bills for him. Sounds like his plan for building his wall along the border. A four time bankruptcy expert and an amazing example of uncouth, reactionary shallow thinking. He isn't Ross Perot and is nowhere near as solvent.
Elaine | 02.26.16 @ 21:14
Never believed it anyway so not at all shocked by this. He is about making money not spending without knowing for sure it is worth it.
Brittany | 02.26.16 @ 21:14
I always kinda figured that much. I don't trust him in the slightest.
Owen | 02.26.16 @ 21:15
This guy is an absolute joke.
Kailie | 02.26.16 @ 21:15
No shock what so ever. I dont trust anything that comes out of that man's mouth.
Kaila tubbs | 02.26.16 @ 21:16
Trump is a total joke and sadly many Americans are buying into his bull. Him lying about his spending just further proves what a joke he is...
Nancy | 02.26.16 @ 21:16
Why am I not surprised. As my dad always said, "If their mouths are moving, they're lying."
Kyle | 02.26.16 @ 21:17
Can't say I'm shocked. He is sleazy as heck.
luzviernes2005 | 03.01.16 @ 22:21
And the fools believe anything Donald Duck Trump the Clown says!
gwdflyer | 03.13.16 @ 01:50
There is a dumb sucker born every minute and Trump knows precisely how to reach out to them. If Trump becomes our next president a lot of his angry followers (read dumb suckers) are going to be much more angry than they are now.
Lillian | 04.26.16 @ 06:03
This all comes from Cruz, He is so envious of Trump is unbelievable.
Lillian | 04.26.16 @ 06:08
All you people here haven't check this out? This all comes from Cruz, Remember how he stole Carson's votes and lied about it. One of Cruz's men said that Cruz had made planes week inn advance to steal those votes, aACruz just got caught paying off a delegate for votes., That's the evil one.
Robert | 05.04.16 @ 16:15
Mr. Trump is accepting small donations from individual voter-donors, but for the most part, he has been funding his own campaign. Oddly enough, he has spent only a fraction of the money spent by the other 16 opponents, who ALL LOST !!!!! Due to his notoriety, much of his TV coverage has been provided free by the Media; he's a smart man and will make an economical President as well. He will make Mexico pay for the wall and make NATO nations pay their fair share and make other nations that our military protects, also pay their FAIR share !!!!!
Darroll | 05.05.16 @ 12:09
He has not solicited any donations. He pays no one, nor does he have any volunteers actively or inactively soliciting donations. It is in this context that he is self-funded.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 11.27.20 @ 09:31