The billionaire mogul-turned-presidential candidate Donald Trump lent his own campaign more than $10.8m in a loan that amounts to a bet on himself, government-mandated disclosures revealed on Sunday. His campaign also appears to have spent well more than $325,000 on those “Make America Great Again” hats.
It was almost the top reveal of a last-minute bid for transparency required by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), as the deadline for the final 2015 reports on donations and financing ran up against the morning of the first 2016 voting day of the campaign for the White House.
The disclosures led to all sorts of fascinating insights into the campaigns: Jeb Bush’s average donations per day plunged along with his poll numbers, from more than $500,000 to less than $90,000 over the course of October, November and December 2015. A Super Pac associated with Hillary Clinton spent $300 on shredding, and got millions from the billionaire George Soros.
But perhaps most interesting of all – at least to the casual campaign observer who may have grown used to the piles of outside spending as Monday’s Iowa caucuses approached in earnest – was the disclosure that the Trump campaign spent $326,699.85 during the final quarter of 2015 with one company on “hats”.
Politico tallied the total hat expenditures at about $450,000, as part of some $940,000 on campaign memorabilia.
Trump donned the hat – featuring the campaign slogan he cribbed from Ronald Reagan – through the majority of his upstart campaign, with the New York Times quickly declaring it an “ironic must-have fashion accessory” .
The official Trump campaign hats are manufactured by a company called Cali-Fame, in Carson, California, which had to hire 20 additional employees once it became the mogul’s hipster hat-maker of choice, according to a Los Angeles Fox affiliate .
The workers who stitch the hats are overwhelmingly Latino – a group the candidate has alienated aggressively over the course of his campaign with sweeping anti-immigration policy proposals, including building a wall between the US and Mexico. Cali-Fame president Brian Kennedy told the Los Angeles Times that he had to address his 80% Latino workforce when the orders started coming in from Trump. “I said to them, ‘we’re not political. We’re here to work,’” Kennedy told the Times.
Yolanda Melendrez, an immigrant from Mexico who works at the Cali-Fame factory, told the Times : “When we first got the order, I said to myself, ‘Just wait until he sees who’s making his hats.’ We’re Latinos, we’re Mexicans, Salvadoreños.”
The campaign sells each hat for $25. Trump’s estimated profits from his own accessory remained unclear and were not mandated by the FEC.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2016