Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly used $55,055 of his campaign donations to buy copies of his own book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, the Daily Beast reports. The book was reportedly purchased in bulk from book retailer Barnes and Noble, a move that may be illegal unless Trump takes action.
By buying up his own book, the Daily Beast wrote, Trump was not only boosted his book sales by as many as 3,500 sold units ($55,055 would be enough purchasing power for more than 3,500 copies of the hardcover version of Trump's new book, or more than 5,000 copies of the paperback), but also to attempt to hold on to the money from the book's royalties.
In Trump's defense, the books were purchased as gifts for attendees to the Republican National Convention in July as a part of a Trump goodie bag, a Trump spokesperson told The Daily Beast.
But if Trump wants to keep his FEC dealings all in legal order, he'll have to pass on any royalties he would receive from the book purchase made by the campaign. Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that advocates for "the strong enforcement of campaign finance laws" told the Daily Beast,
It’s fine for a candidate’s book to be purchased by his committee, but it’s impermissible to receive royalties from the publisher. That amounts to an illegal conversion of campaign funds to personal use. There’s a well established precedent from the FEC that funds from the campaign account can’t end up in your own pocket...
[T]he bottom line is, no money of this $55,000 from the book can end up in Donald Trump’s pocket without violating federal law.
Apart from the possibility that Trump was possibly trying to sneak away with some extra royalty cash, there's also a chance that the books were bought in bulk from Barnes and Noble so that the book could get on the New York Times best-seller list. Ben Bruton, a veteran in the publishing PR world told The Daily Beast that the fact that Trump bought the books at retail cost from Barnes and Noble is a red flag, because best-seller lists often only consider sales from brick-and-mortar retail stores. Bruton further said he believes that the bulk purchase "was definitely an attempt to both make money and to get onto the best-seller list."