WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump said Thursday he would prefer to use his own companies' resources for campaigning without paying them.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee responded to complaints by donors and others that his campaign has paid millions of dollars for event space at venues controlled by his own companies. Previous political candidates have carefully separated their business ventures from political efforts.
An Associated Press analysis of Federal Election Commission filings found that the Trump campaign spent about $6 million on various Trump products and services, as well as reimbursing family members for travel.
The filings show the campaign paid $4.6 million to TAG Air, the holding company of his airplanes. Other Trump-to-Trump expenses include $423,000 to Mar-a-Lago, Trump's private club and vacation home in Florida, as well as tens of thousands of dollars to his other properties and smaller amounts to his bottled water brand and his son's winery.
Democratic rival Hillary Clinton ribbed Trump on Tuesday, tweeting to followers: "What is Trump spending his meager campaign resources on? Why, himself, of course."
There's nothing illegal about what Trump is doing. Federal rules require companies— even ones owned by the candidate— to charge fair-market value so as not to run afoul of a ban on corporate campaign contributions.
Trump stressed that in an interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.
"By law, I have to reimburse the aircraft and the plane and all the stuff, okay?" Trump said. "And I'm very meticulous about it."
He added: "I would love to just use my places and not charge. It's fine. It's better for me. I would like it much better."
Later in the interview he said it would be "stupid" to use someone else's plane or event venues.
Trump's comments to Hewitt came the same day he announced that he was wiping out the nearly $50 million in loans he made to his campaign account. Those loans had paid for the majority of his successful primary run. He is now seeking outside donations as he faces off with Clinton in a costly general election.
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