Brandt Thomas Roessler

The Soapbox applies logic and reason to critically analyze politics, current events, and daily challenges while presenting the analysis in plain, understandable language.

Donald Trump's Biggest Scam

Donald Trump's Biggest Scam

Donald Trump has been called many things during this presidential election season: racist, sexist, bigot, hothead, narcissist, philanderer, and a loser. You can add "scam artist" to that list as well. Back in 2000, Trump told Fortune Magazine: "It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." If he had that mentality with his failed 2000 campaign, what would prevent him from adopting that same attitude with his current presidential bid?

Although he says otherwise at every chance he gets, Donald Trump is not self-funding his campaign; he is self-financing it. It's a small distinction that makes a large difference. Instead of "funding" his presidential bid in the sense that he is using his own money to support campaign logistics, Trump is lending money to the campaign. The difference: he expects to be paid back.

And he will be paid back. Last week, the Trump campaign announced that it would begin accepting contributions from "big-dollar donors" in preparation for the general election. As of March 31, 2016, Donald Trump has loaned about $36 million to his campaign, comprising 75% of the $48 million the campaign has raised. Considering that a general election campaign can cost upwards of $1 billion, it's likely that Trump will receive plenty of outside donations to pay back himself for the $36 million in zero-interest loans. In a sense, Trump provided the "initial investment" to "jumpstart" his campaign "venture" and will now be reimbursed by other investors—those "big-dollar donors."

But, the scam doesn't stop with Donald Trump's complete 180-degree flip-flop on his "self-funded" campaign. After all, that's just hypocrisy and that doesn't seem to get him in trouble with voters. Not only is Donald Trump expecting to be repaid, his campaign expenses include over $2.7 million in payments to Trump-owned companies or employees: flights on the Trump jet and helicopters, office space in Trump Tower, and his personal bodyguard. These expenses would have been incurred by Donald Trump even if he weren't running for president—he'd still have to pay for the upkeep and flights on the Trump Jet and his costs of running Trump Tower. Basically, Trump is "writing off" these business expenses as reimbursable campaign costs.

Trump's Gilded Scam is two-fold:

  1. It manipulates voters into accepting his "self-made millionaire" facade, and
  2. It tricks donors into paying for Trump's expenses that would've been incurred with or without a presidential campaign.

If none of that seems reprehensible enough for you, consider the increased business and brand recognition that Trump-named companies will certainly enjoy because of his preeminence in the public eye. Despite the loss of business with companies like Macy's and NBC caused by his bombastically racist statements, Trump could offset those losses through his other ventures. According to mandatory financial disclosures, Trump has claimed a $190 million increase in revenue from his various ventures since beginning his presidential campaign, including luxury resorts and book sales.

It's a smart way to encourage initial investment in an enterprise, jump-starting the business; but a campaign to be elected President of the United States of America is not an investment enterprise. American voters and donors are being duped by Mr. Trump, and I hope more people start realizing that Trump is "pulling the wool over their eyes."

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