The Daily Beast has reported that Donald Trump dropped $55,000 dollars out of his campaign funds on his own book in May, but not through the publisher at a reduced rate as most authors do, nope. He bought them at a bookstore for full price, which would have the effect of fluffing sales numbers or, more damningly, an illegal attempt to turn campaign funds into personal profit.
“Donald Trump used his campaign funds to buy thousands of copies of his own book at retail cost, simultaneously diverting donor money back into his pockets while artificially boosting his sales figures. It’s a tactic that may be illegal, campaign finance experts say.”
The books were used as “goody bag stuffers” for the delegates attending the RNC, along with sundry other items like hats, cups, t-shirts and, grotesquely, plastic fetus figurines.
This isn’t the first large purchase of books by a Republican candidate, but it seems to be the first at retail prices purchased through a brick and mortar retail store like Barnes and Noble. And, as long as Trump doesn’t accept royalties, or possibly donates them to a charity, he is going to get away with what some are saying was an attempt to scam his book back onto the NYT best sellers list.
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According to The Daily Beast:
“[$55,000 dollars] amounts to more than 3,500 copies of the hardcover version of Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, or just over 5,000 copies of the renamed paperback release, Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America.”
However, if he did (or does) accept those royalties, this exits the status of low-life notoriety grift to an illegal use of campaign funds, converting them to personal profit. When asked if Trump had agreed to give up his royalties, both the campaign and Simon & Schuster the publishers have refused to comment.
A representative from the nonpartisan nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, Paul Ryan (no relation) said:
“It’s fine for a candidate’s book to be purchased by his committee, but it’s impermissible to receive royalties from the publisher. That amounts to an illegal conversion of campaign funds to personal use. There’s a well established precedent from the FEC that funds from the campaign account can’t end up in your own pocket.”
The “normal” way for authors to buy books in bulk is to get a discounted rate from their publisher, like (the) Paul Ryan did in 2014 when he bought copies of his book The Way Forward. Or when Ted Cruz bought his own books from his publisher HarperCollins to the tune of $122,252.62 dollars which he resold on his campaign website as signed copies at magnificently inflated prices.
From the FEC advisory opinion about Paul Ryan’s purchase:
“Under the Act and Commission regulations, an authorized committee may spend its funds to finance activities ‘in connection with the campaign for federal office of the candidate…’ 2 U.S.C. § 439a(a)(1); 11 CFR 113.2(a). Such spending must not, however, result in the conversion of campaign funds to the personal use of the candidate or any other person.”
The Federal Election Committees advisory panel approved that use of campaign funds, and Ryan didn’t receive royalties. Ted Cruz presumably got a break buying directly from his publisher, and used them as a fundraising prop. But a big difference here is these types of direct from the manufacturer style purchases do not count towards “book sales” for the best seller list.
Purchases from brick and mortar retail sellers at full price do.
There are protections against bulk purchases affecting the list, though, and that may be why Trump’s book was not listed on the Best Sellers list for that month. Just as Ted Cruz’s bulk purchase did not result in a false “best seller” listing for his, either.
Cue The Simpson’s bully pointing and laughing: Trump isn’t going to be able to get away with either of the probable aims of this unique style of purchase.
Why he would make that purchase, so irresponsibly, with campaign funds is a question that only Trump can answer, and as usual he isn’t talking. However, if this is any indication of Trump’s ability to manage public funds, it is a piss-poor decision that resulted what seems to be, at the least, wasted money and at most an illegal scam.
Donald Trump continually tries to make Hillary Clinton seem “crooked” with innuendo and out of context anecdotes. However, he keeps showing us exactly how “crooked” he actually is, from Trump University to this Barnes and Nobles-gate purchase. Oh, and when asked about such book purchases, Hillary Clinton’s campaign stated:
We think we’ve probably purchased a copy or two just to have in the office, but the campaign has never purchased her book in bulk or anything close to that.
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