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Political spending at Trump properties tops $22 million – CNN

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President Donald Trump’s campaign and affiliated political committees have continued to drive hundreds of thousands of dollars to his companies in recent months, according to a CNN review of new filings with the Federal Election Commission. And more spending is on the way. On Monday night, Trump, for instance, headlined what the White House called a “roundtable” with donors at his Washington hotel, Trump International. The event raised $5 million for his reelection effort, a Republican official said.
In all, political committees have spent more than $22 million at Trump properties, since the billionaire real-estate developer entered the presidential race in 2015, a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics shows. Leading the way: His campaign; the Republican National Committee; Trump Victory, his joint fundraising operation with the RNC and state party committees; and a pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.
Trump campaign officials say the activity is perfectly legal. Campaign-finance watchdogs say it reeks of self-dealing, particularly amid a global pandemic that has killed more than 140,000 in this country and added millions of Americans to the unemployment rolls.
Fred Wertheimer, who runs the Democracy 21 watchdog group, said the money that continues to flow to Trump properties underscores how much his presidency has dismantled political and ethical norms in the nation’s capital.
“There has never been anything like this at the presidential level because no President has insisted on owning a commercial enterprise at the same time they have existed as President,” Wertheimer said. “Everyone in America is financially struggling, and he has this fail-safe method to minimize any struggling by his commercial properties by channeling other people’s money to it.”
In an email, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said: “The campaign pays fair market value and abides by all FEC laws and regulations.”
While Trump turned the day-to-day operations of his far-flung real-estate and branding empire over to his adult sons, he has maintained ownership of his namesake company and has not shied away from promoting its assets. Over the weekend, he spent parts of both days golfing at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.
Sunday’s round marked the 371st day at one of his properties and 279th day at one of his golf clubs since the beginning of his presidency, according to CNN’s tally.
The largest recent expense to a Trump company: The roughly $400,000 that Trump Victory paid to the Trump Hotel Collection in late March and early April, recent FEC filings show. A party official said the spending was tied to a March donor retreat at the President’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
During his tenure, Trump has used the club as a setting for campaign events, along with official government business such as summits with world leaders, like Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Trump campaign has been the biggest spender at Trump-owned businesses, driven by its use of TAG Air, which operated Trump’s personal plane during the 2016 campaign. That accounted for $8.7 million, a CNN tally shows. That’s more than half what the campaign spent at all Trump properties over two presidential election cycles.
Other Trump properties receiving donors’ money from the Trump campaign and other political entities include: Trump Tower, the New York skyscraper where the Trump campaign has maintained offices and his Doral golf club in South Florida.

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We need more liberty, less politics: Richard Boddie – OCRegister

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Back in 1990 when I was running to become the 1992 nominee for president as the Libertarian Party candidate, and again when I actually ran for the Senate in California against Dianne Feinstein and John Seymour in 1992, and then against “DiFi” again and Michael Huffington in 1994, reporters would often ask me, “How many Libertarians are there”?

My late friend and mentor David Bergland, the 1984 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, used to often tell reporters, “Most Americans are libertarians. They’re just in the process of discovering it.”

I pray that he might have been right, and I have reasons to believe so.

I believe that many Americans just want to be left alone to live their own lives freely, and that most abide by a live-and-let-live philosophy in their daily lives. It’s clear to me that we would probably all be better off if we stopped using the state, or so-called government, as the vehicle by which we try to impose our values on others. Voluntary anything beats mandatory anything every time.

But current political frameworks and debates don’t actually lend themselves to maximizing personal freedom, or even freedom from politics.

My initial political beliefs came from my home, as is most people’s experience. My dad, a Negro church pastor (this was in the early 1940s and that’s what we were called and also called ourselves when not using the term “colored”) was a Democrat, mainly because of FDR’s influence on the Black communities nationwide with his New Deal. Thus, I too was a Democrat. Rev. Boddie (pronounced “body”) strongly opposed war and questioned any and all United States military intervention worldwide. I also do to this day, most likely as a result of dad’s pacifist influence.

As an adult, after college and law school, I observed that the vast majority of Black folks in my city, Rochester, New York, were Democrats, likely for much the same reason as most people: you inherit political perspectives from those around you.

In those days in the minds of most people, politically, there were only Republicans, Democrats and Communists.

The concept of liberal, conservative, or even independent had yet to surface as political divisions in the minds of the citizenry. And surely there were no color-coded red, blue or purple shortcuts until recent times. And as for that recent innovation, it’s obvious that somebody definitely got the red and blue colorings backward. Who ever heard of a blue progressive or socialist, or a red Republican? Come on. But I ramble.

Unfortunately for our nation, the word “libertarian” and understanding thereof appears to be much too late in coming, just now breaking through to the masses. Instead and as a result, most of our politics are dominated by factions committed to using government to achieve what should be achieved voluntarily or as close to the individual as possible.

Libertarianism as a political approach is much closer to the intuition most people have of live and let live, for it is based on the common belief and understanding that this nation was predicated on respect for the individual first and foremost.

We would probably all be better off if we stopped using the government as the vehicle through which we seek to solve every problem, from the personal to the cultural to the economic.

This current divisive culture war and craziness that we are experiencing could ultimately be better handled by individuals and communities, often voluntarily, instead of being botched up and exacerbated by politicians at all levels.

I believe that we wouldn’t have our lives dominated by headlines about Trump or Biden or whomever if we didn’t trust in government to do so much that it shouldn’t be doing. Isn’t it obvious to you yet where the actual obvious problem is here?  As the late American businessman and libertarian activist Robert LeFevre put it, “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.”

The late co-founder of the Libertarian Party, David Nolan, established that there are five basic elements that one must believe in if she or he professes to be a libertarian: 1. You own yourself; 2. A belief in the right of self-defense; 3. Opposition to “criminal possession” laws; 4. Opposition to taxes on productivity; and 5. Support for a sound money system. That’s basically it.

Or more concisely, by yours truly:  “Do all you agree to do, and do not encroach on other people or other people’s property.” Or, “Don’t hurt other people and don’t take their stuff.” Or, “Thou shalt not aggress.” And this especially goes for people calling themselves government, too.

These days so many decent American voters are clamoring for a third party. It is quite understandable considering all the bipartisan angst. But, for some strange reason, perhaps due to the Libertarian Party’s principled and consistent positions and belief that “thou shalt not aggress” or “live and let live.” and absent the traditional cut-throat and too often blind political tactics, few are aware of or making the switch to the only political party that could fix the mess.

The LP has been in existence for almost 50 years now, it is in all 50 states and has been for years, and has run presidential and congressional candidates since its inception, as well as state and local candidates. It’s interesting to note that very few Americans have been allowed to even consider that political party choice. What’s up with that?

Whether you vote for the LP or not, whether you call yourself a libertarian or not, wouldn’t our lives all be better if we were less bombarded with politics? The only way to get there is to stop playing the usual games, stop sticking to the usual scripts and stop putting so much power in the hands of politicians and the state.

Richard Boddie is a member of the Southern California News Group’s editorial board.

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Ukraine president says Kyiv staying out of U.S. internal politics, elections – Reuters

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy gestures during an open-air news conference, one year after his inauguration, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kiev, Ukraine May 20, 2020. Sergey Dolzhenko/Pool via REUTERS

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that it was a matter of Ukraine’s national security to stay out of U.S. internal politics, particularly its election.

“#Ukraine did not and will not allow itself to interfere in the elections and thus harm our trusting and sincere partnership with the #USA,” he wrote on Twitter late on Saturday.

Zelenskiy, 42, was a comic actor when he won a landslide election last year. But the first year of his presidency was overshadowed by Ukraine’s unwitting involvement in events that led to the impeachment of Republican U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump had unsuccessfully pressed Ukraine to launch an investigation into his Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Never, under any circumstances, it’s acceptable to meddle in another country’s sovereign elections,” Zelenskiy wrote.

Zelenskiy appealed to Ukrainian politicians to avoid any actions that could be linked to U.S. elections, nor allow themselves to try to solve any of their personal, political or business problems that way.

“Ukraine’s reputation is worth much more than the reputation of any of our politicians,” the president said.

Earlier this week, Zelenskiy told Reuters that he hoped U.S. support for Ukraine would remain strong regardless of who wins the American election.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Week In Politics: Congress Fails To Come To Agreement On New Coronavirus Relief Bill – NPR

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As lawmakers fight over what to include in the next Coronavirus relief package, we look at the impact of delaying that aid. Also, do we know more about President Trump’s agenda for his second term?

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