Trump got 'unusual' payments from Las Vegas hotel in 2016, New York Times says

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Donald Trump received US$21 million (S$28 million) in “highly unusual” payments from a Nevada hotel in 2016 as his presidential campaign was struggling for cash, the New York Times reported.

Tax records recently obtained by the newspaper show a series of transactions that flowed to the president from a hotel he owns in Las Vegas with casino mogul Phil Ruffin, at a time his campaign had as little as US$1.3 million in the bank, according to the report published on Friday (Oct 9).

The Times said experts characterised the payments as unusual.

The documents do not show if the money ultimately went to the campaign, but the payments could violate tax or campaign finance laws, the newspaper said.

The finding is the latest published by the New York Times based on more than two decades of Trump’s tax data.

The Times reported on Sept 27 that Trump has aggressively used tax deductions to offset income and paid only US$750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

“This is yet another politically-motivated hit piece inaccurately smearing a standard business deal,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement responding to the Times article.

“During his years as a successful businessman, Donald Trump was long-time partners with Phil Ruffin and earned whatever payments he received.”

The Trump Organisation and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The New York Times said the the bulk of the US$21 million went through a company called Trump Las Vegas Sales and Marketing that had no employees or clear business purpose.

Trump contributed US$10 million to his campaign in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, which has raised questions about where the candidate, who had been tight on cash, got the money, the newspaper said.

Trump’s re-election effort ended in August with US$325 million, about US$141 million less than Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee had.

Neither campaign has released figures on their September financial position, but Biden topped the record US$364.5 million his campaign raised in August.

Biden started September with a US$466 million mountain of cash to take on Trump, completely reversing the Republican’s financial advantage in just four months.

In April, Biden had about US$98 million in the bank compared to US$255 million for the incumbent.

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