Trump's Politicking Raises Ethics Flags President Holds First 2020 Fundraiser

By Bykowicz, Julie | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), June 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Trump's Politicking Raises Ethics Flags President Holds First 2020 Fundraiser


Bykowicz, Julie, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


WASHINGTON - Barely five months into office, President Donald Trump keeps taking time out from governing to run for re-election.

On Wednesday night, he'll attend his first 2020 campaign fundraiser, rubbing elbows with some of the Republican Party's top donors on familiar turf: his own hotel down the street from the White House. He's already spent five evenings on the road at political rallies, always in states that supported him in November and always in front of an audience of thousands of fans who are screened and selected by his campaign aides.

The historically early campaigning comes with clear fundraising benefits, but it has raised red flags. Among them: Government employees have inappropriately crossed over into campaign activities, tax dollars may be subsidizing some aspects of campaign events, and as a constant candidate, the president risks alienating Americans who did not vote for him.

Larry Noble, former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission, said the early campaigning creates plenty of "potential tripwires," adding: "They're going to have to proceed very carefully to avoid violations."

The White House did not answer questions about the early politicking, including whether any government costs are reimbursed by the campaign and whether White House employees who help with politics in their spare time have received training on how to avoid ethical pitfalls.

The Trump team has decided that any risks are worth it. The re-election effort raised more than $7 million in the first three months of this year, all from small donations and the sale of "Make America Great Again" merchandise. Wednesday's dinner is his first solicitation of larger donors, with tickets starting at $35,000. Proceeds will be split between his re-election campaign and the Republican Party.

Campaign director Michael Glassner has said the rallies give Trump the chance to speak directly and powerfully to his base of supporters. …

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