Trump's business booms as he runs for president, financial disclosures show
WASHINGTON >> Business has boomed in Donald Trump's financial empire during the time he has run for president, according to an analysis of his federal disclosure forms.
The documents, including a lengthy filing released Wednesday and one from last July, show that revenue has increased by almost $190 million, with gains coming from golf courses to branded merchandise to book royalties.
At his tony Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, revenue nearly doubled, climbing from about $16 million in 2014 and the first half of 2015 to about $30 million since the start of his campaign, according to the forms.
Sales of his licensed bottled-water brand, Trump Ice, are up as well — from $280,000 last year to $413,000 this year, the forms show.
"Crippled America," his book published in November, made between $1 million and $5 million in royalties, he reported.
The flood of cash highlights one of the most unusual aspects of Trump's candidacy — the potential that a private businessman can benefit financially from a run for the White House. And it shows how his fortunes have evolved since last year, when his controversial comments about immigration and Muslims threatened to tarnish his business brand even if they boosted his political campaign.
Trump announced the new filing Tuesday, saying he is "proud" that it "is the largest in the history of the FEC." Government officials declined to confirm Trump's assertion.
Presidential candidates are required to provide, under oath, an annual financial disclosure listing their business interests.
To gauge the effect of the campaign on Trump's companies, The Washington Post compared his two disclosure forms, which were released by the Federal Election Commission.
Last year's form reported that Trump's holdings brought in revenue of $362 million in 2014 and the first half of 2015.
The form released Wednesday — which shows revenue spiking to $557 million — covers a shorter period of time but encompasses the life of his presidential campaign, from July 2015 until Monday.
The new disclosure comes amid swirling questions about Trump's income and net worth. This week, he reiterated his past claim that he was worth more than $10 billion, although Trump has not provided independent evidence to back up the claim.
His refusal to release his tax returns, which would provide detailed information about his income, has drawn fire from some Republican critics and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Wednesday's disclosure did little to shed light on his actual income.
While Trump's campaign issued a statement referring to the form as a tally of his personal "income," it is actually a list of his companies' gross revenue — a figure that does not factor in the costs of paying employees and running the companies. In addition, the FEC form does not account for debt interest payments, a potentially significant expenditure for Trump, who lists five loans of over $50 million each.
When asked if Trump believed the campaign had been good for business, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, "Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization has always owned and operated the most successful and iconic properties."
Trump said this week he used the added revenue to fund "construction projects at various multimillion-dollar developments," reduce his debt and fund his campaign.
The revenue jump appeared especially pronounced at Trump's golf courses.
At Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., where in March the mogul used his Super Tuesday victory speech to promote Trump Steaks and other products, revenue jumped from $12 million to $18 million, Trump reported.
He said revenue at his course in Bedminster, N.J., increased from $16 million to $21 million. And, he said, it jumped from $14 million to $17 million at his Virginia course.
Trump National Doral, a four-course golf complex near Miami, was again the Trump empire's largest gross moneymaker, with revenue exploding from $50 million to $132 million, according to Trump's disclosures.
Although a number of companies that licensed Trump's name for consumer products announced they were cutting ties because of his campaign trail rhetoric, Trump nevertheless reported his revenue from licensing deals was little changed in the past year.
For instance, he reported that he received from $1 million to $5 million from Trump-branded mattresses over the past 12 months, although Serta Mattress announced last July that it was winding down its Trump line. A spokeswoman for Serta said the company's contract with Trump ended Dec. 31, 2015, and that, typically in licensing deals, "royalties are paid in periodic installments over the course of the contract."
Some aspects of Trump's business empire have sagged during his campaign.
Revenue from his menswear line, which was pulled from the shelves of Macy's after his campaign began, declined. In 2015, he reported that it earned between $1 million and $5 million, whereas he now reports it brought in between $100,000 and $1 million.
Commissions at Trump's New York modeling agency, Trump Model Management, fell by about $300,000, the forms show. Royalties for the accessory and skin-care lines of Trump's wife, Melania, dropped from up to $1 million to less than $50,000.
Trump's new report shows that he has invested in companies that he has criticized on the campaign trail, including with stock holdings in Ford, Apple and Disney.
Trump reported making up to $20,000 from interest on bonds he holds in the makers of Carrier air conditioners and Oreo cookies, both of which he has blasted for shipping American manufacturing jobs overseas.
The report says he received more than $100,000 in income from dividends and capital gains as a shareholder in Apple. Trump called for a boycott of the tech giant because of its reluctance to cooperate with efforts to break into the phones of alleged terrorists.
Trump also owns between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of Amazon stock. He has criticized the company and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos for "getting away with murder tax-wise" and for having a "huge antitrust problem." Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
Trump reported that he earned $49.3 million from the sale of the Miss Universe pageant to the talent agency WME-IMG. The terms of the sale were not disclosed when it was announced in September 2015, the culmination of a fight between Trump and NBC that erupted after the start of his campaign when NBC announced it would no longer air the annual event.
Trump listed board positions on 564 different entities, most of them small partnerships or one-owner companies tied to Trump real estate. Trump said he also collected $168,584 as part of a pension from the Screen Actors Guild.
The report showed that his marquee project to build a luxury hotel down the street from the White House has prompted Trump to tack on some additional debt - a loan of $170 million from Deutsche Bank. The disclosure also showed that Trump had over the last year opened new advisory, licensing and management corporations for ventures in foreign cities such as Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Kolkata, India.
The filing adds another chapter to the shifting story of Trump's wealth. Last June, when Trump descended the escalators of Trump Tower to say he was "really rich" and would run for president, his aides passed around a one-page summary asserting he was worth more than $8.7 billion.
A month later, Trump's campaign released a new statement, saying Trump's net worth was now "in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS."
When Trump submitted his FEC disclosure last July, his campaign released a statement saying the document "was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump's massive wealth."
The Washington Post's Anu Narayanswamy contributed to this report.
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