Most of the public thinks campaign promises are never kept. That’s actually unfair on the public’s part, as presidents actually keep a wide majority of their promises. Though of course some presidents often try and fail to meet a promise, and in that, President Trump is actually fairly ordinary.
But one simple promise Trump made was broken quickly: That he would put his money where his mouth was. On Friday, Trump broke a pledge in an email to his supporters saying he would match contributions dollar-for-dollar.
UPDATE: The TRUMP campaign tells me that @POTUS is NOT going to donate any of his own $ to his campaign, despite emailing donors asking them to "make a contribution of $5 … & I will MATCH it dollar-for-dollar."
Apparently that refers to him transferring DONOR $ to the RNC. pic.twitter.com/dGjoG1GXht
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) October 24, 2018
Trump did put a fair amount of his own money in his campaign before the 2016 election, but he has been aggressively fundraising for his 2020 bid. So far, he’s built an impressive $100 million war chest from campaign contributions for the next presidential election.
Trump started running for re-election the day he was inaugurated. And while he did donate to his initial campaign, he hasn’t donated any of his personal wealth to his re-election, instead relying on his aggressive fundraising efforts.
And while Trump did donate $66.1 million to his initial campaign, he made back $15 million by April of this year from government agencies and political organizations alone. That’s a drop in the ocean of the $175 million Trump makes annually from his commercial tenants — many of whom lobby the president on a wide variety of hot-button issues. And he stood to make tens of millions off of the Republican tax cuts of 2017 as well.
“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” Trump famously told Forbes in 2000.
Lying about money is a large part of the story of Trump family fortune. The Trump family — namely his father, Fred Trump — engaged in efforts to transfer wealth tax-free through fraud, according to New York tax authorities. This fraud was part of another lie: That Trump was a self-made billionaire, which was recently debunked by the New York Times.
Reversing course on his pledge to match campaign contributions is far from the only time Trump turned tail on putting his money where his mouth was. Recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) took Trump’s challenge to prove her Native American ancestry only to have Trump back out of the bet he made to donate $1 million to charity.
It’s hardly shocking that this particular promise about matching campaign donations was broken. But breaking this promise is a clear example of how the one thing Trump won’t put on the line is his own money.
“When it comes to wringing bucks out of this administration, no one can match President Donald Trump himself for the sheer depth and breadth of his national grift,” wrote Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion at US News and World Report.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.