UPDATED, Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 10:10 a.m.: Donald Trump’s own campaign office paid $35,458 in rent at Trump Tower in March but in July that figure ballooned to $169,758, according to federal campaign filings.
In a statement, Trump’s campaign said it had tripled its space at the office building, paying market rates in the area. The campaign previously operated out of an unbuilt space along part of the fifth floor, but has moved up to also take the entire 14th and 15th floors of the trophy property. Area rents average about $70 per square foot. It’s unclear how large the new floors are or how much total space the campaign is renting.
The Huffington Post, which first reported the uptick in rent, noted that FEC filings indicate the increases started with a May 31 payment for $72,800, shortly after Trump agreed to a joint fundraising venture with the Republican National Committee.
The campaign, meanwhile, said Trump made a personal contribution of $2 million to the campaign, “obviously a much higher amount than rent.”
According to the Huffington Post, Trump Tower rented 9,000 square feet of office space in December at $120 per square foot, but hasn’t been able to rent a 15,000 square-foot office, even at a reduced price of $90 per square foot.
Trump’s team also took umbrage with HuffPo’s claim that the campaign has for months said it would increase the number of staffers but has failed to. In March, Trump paid 197 employees and consultants, while in July that number was down to 172, federal campaign filings show.
“We’re constantly adding new staff and in the subsequent weeks after convention, we’ve done that,” said Steven Cheung, the campaign’s new “rapid response” director.
The key difference between March and July, according to the Huffington Post, is that Trump started raking in outside donations. Up until late June, Trump’s campaign was primarily self-funded. In July, Trump reported bringing in $82 million, falling only slightly behind Hillary Clinton’s $90 million.
“If I was a donor, I’d want answers,” a Republican National Committee member told the publication. “If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an (attack) ad out of it.”
Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, also took a shot at Trump.
“Once donors were writing checks to the campaign, Trump said, ‘Wow, I can get more money personally out of this,’” Kaine said in Denver.
Federal records show Trump has directed nearly 20 percent of his campaign cash to companies linked to him.
City officials recently fined the Trump Organization $10,000 after the campaign used the lobby of the tower too many times for press conferences. Bloomberg recently estimated the tower to be worth $600 million. In 2012, Trump took out a $100 million mortgage on the office building.
Meanwhile, Clinton, with about 700 campaign staffers, has been renting two floors that together span 80,000 square feet at Forest City Ratner’s 1 Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn Heights for $212,000 per month. Trump’s camp noted that despite the increase in size at Trump Tower, his campaign is still paying $40,000 less than Clinton’s. [Huffington Post] — Kathryn Brenzel
This article was updated to include statements from the Trump campaign.