Arrington tops GOP officials who have spent most at Trump properties

Since President Donald Trump won last year’s election, his company — the Trump Organization — has experienced an increase in one particular line of business: Hosting fundraisers and receptions for Republican lawmakers.

 

These events have mostly happened at Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, which opened last year. The luxe hotel has a large ballroom, two smaller banquet rooms and a BLT Prime steakhouse. It was designed to attract campaign fundraisers, even if Trump had not won the White House.

He did. And Trump made the controversial decision to maintain ownership of his businesses as president, even as he handed day-to-day control to his adult sons.

That arrangement has made 2017 a fascinating experiment: How would the fundraising circuit change now that legislators had the option of spending their campaign dollars with an incumbent president?

Between Election Day 2016 and the end of September of this year, federal political committees reported paying at least $1.27 million to Trump entities, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Not a dollar has come from any Democrats.

Among congressional Republicans, 40 have spent campaign or leadership PAC money at Trump properties, including the D.C. hotel and other hotels and golf clubs throughout the country.

Below are the 10 national Republican officials who have spent the most at Trump properties since Election Day 2016 — and the congressional candidate who has spent the most at the president’s venues.

President Trump

$534,864 spent at Trump-branded properties since Jan. 1

Among Republican politicians, Trump’s best customer this year — by far — has been the president himself.

Trump, who began fundraising for his 2020 re-election on Inauguration Day, has spent heavily at Trump Organization properties through his campaign and two affiliated committees since Jan. 1. His campaign has paid $482,371 for rent at Trump Tower in New York. It paid $22,700 for stays at the Trump hotel in D.C. It spent $2,596 on “office supplies” from Trump Ice, a bottled-water company.

In addition, the Republican National Committee spent $176,738 at Trump properties this year, including $122,000 to host a fundraiser headlined by the president at the Trump hotel in Washington in June

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Lubbock

$16,602 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Arrington is a freshman representative from Lubbock. In January, he held a reception in the Franklin Study, a meeting room at Trump’s D.C. hotel, for 100-plus supporters who had come to see Arrington be sworn in.

The Trump hotel “happened to offer the best combination of size, price point, along with a convenient and historic location,” said Kate McBrayer, a spokeswoman for Arrington.

Arrington’s campaign spent more than $16,000 on the reception. At the time, it set a record: The most expensive event ever held by another GOP politician at the new Trump hotel.

Ten months later, the record stands. No other GOP lawmaker has reported holding an event this expensive at Trump’s D.C. hotel.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J.

$15,221 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

This summer, MacArthur’s campaign paid to rent a room for a fundraiser at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J. The event’s headliner was Trump, who was spending the weekend at his home on the course.

MacArthur raised more than $700,000 at the event, according to news reports.

Just days after the fundraiser, Trump undercut MacArthur’s key legislative achievement — a House bill to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law — by publicly calling it “mean.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

$12,545 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

In June, Rohrabacher held a fundraiser in the Franklin Study at Trump’s Washington hotel that drew about 75 people.

A video of the event, posted on Instagram, shows Rohrabacher talking about a major issue for him: Marijuana legalization. “Why are we trying to ruin the lives of a million people because they had a … joint and ended up with criminal record?” Rohrabacher asked the crowd. His campaign paid for the event.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.

$9,277 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Shuster’s campaign committee spent a combined $9,277 at the D.C. hotel and its BLT Prime steakhouse in March, April and early May. Campaign finance filings say the expenditures were for “event catering,” “meeting expense” and “event facility rental.” It was not clear whether the payments were for a single event or multiple events.

A few weeks later, Trump lent his support to an idea that Shuster had been pushing for years — privatizing the U.S. air traffic control system. In an East Room ceremony, Trump signed a memo and a letter to Congress endorsing the idea, as Shuster looked on.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tomball

$7,585 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

McCaul, who advised Trump on homeland security issues during the 2016 race, used campaign funds to pay for a Christmas reception in December at the BLT Prime steakhouse at Trump’s D.C. hotel.

Around the same time, Trump was considering McCaul as a candidate for homeland security secretary. Lizzie Litzow, a spokeswoman for McCaul, said McCaul did not choose the venue because it was owned by Trump.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

$6,707 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, used campaign funds to pay for a fundraiser at BLT Prime in March and a meeting there in June.

Fundraising records show that while he was one of the top spenders at the president’s hotel, Walden’s campaign also spent thousands at a number of other D.C. fundraising hot spots. He spent $7,729, for instance, at Mastro’s Steakhouse.

Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin

$3,286 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Williams used campaign money to pay $3,286 for a “meal/meeting expense” at BLT Prime in May.

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

$2,154 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Kelly, one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the House, has spent $2,154 from his campaign and his leadership PAC on events at Trump’s D.C. hotel and BLT Prime. In May, Kelly told the Washington Examiner he was frustrated with what he described as other Republicans’ insufficient support of Trump.

Sen. John Neely Kennedy, R-La.

$1,850 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Kennedy, a freshman congressman, spent $1,850 of his campaign’s money on lodging at the Trump hotel in Washington in late August, according to campaign finance reports.

Omar Navarro, R-Calif.

$8,451 spent at Trump-branded properties since Election Day 2016

Navarro is a long-shot candidate from Los Angeles who is trying to unseat a frequent Trump critic: Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

This year, Navarro’s campaign has shelled out $8,451 — about one-tenth of the campaign’s total spending — for expenses at Trump properties.

He has paid for overnight stays at Trump’s Las Vegas hotel and for two fundraisers at Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

“I support the president 100 percent,” Navarro said in an interview.”I’m going to do business with places that my political views are aligned with.”

Navarro’s most recent fundraiser was held in the chandeliered Grand Ballroom at the Trump club. The event drew about 50 people. In his speech, Navarro sounded many Trumpian notes, deriding establishment politicians and promoting the idea of building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

“Not only do we have to build that wall, we have to also make sure there are [not] tunnels under that wall so people don’t go under that wall,” said the 28-year-old candidate, prompting cheers.

He was backed up by former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned earlier this year after he was convicted of criminal contempt over his department’s treatment of immigrants.

“Who is my hero? Donald Trump,” Arpaio told the group in the largely empty ballroom.

The tab for the night, paid to the president’s club: $4,132.

 

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