The Donald Trump campaign spent more than $50,000 to buy copies of the candidate’s most recent book, an Federal Election Commission filing shows.
The Daily Beast reports that the Trump campaign spent $55,055 at Barnes & Noble on Trump’s book on May 10. The bulk purchase was of Trump’s latest book, which is titled “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again” in hardcover and “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America” in paperback, matching the Trump campaign’s slogan.
A spokesperson for the Republican nominee told the Daily Beast the books were purchased “as part of gifting at the convention, which we have to do.”
Delegates to the Republican Convention were given canvas tote bags, according to the Daily Beast, “stamped with the Trump slogan, and filled with copies of ‘Crippled America,’ as well as Kleenex and Make America Great Again! cups, hats, and T-shirts. Delegates were also given plastic fetus figurines.”
The bulk purchase is hardly the first by a political candidate or campaign, but it could be illegal if Trump received any royalties from the sale.
Paul S. Ryan, the FEC program director and associate legal counsel for the watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center (and no relation to the house speaker from Wisconsin), told the Daily Beast that Trump is not allowed to receive royalties from the purchase.
“It may be the case for a candidate to instead donate those royalties to charity — that might be a permissible arrangement,” he said. “But the bottom line is, no money of this $55,000 from the book can end up in Donald Trump’s pocket without violating federal law.”
Indeed, the FEC approved a 2014 bulk purchase made by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s campaign of his book “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” because the royalties went to “a section 501(c)(3) charitable organization that is not associated with Rep. Ryan or his family.” Similar decisions were made for then-Sens. Joe Lieberman in 2004 and Arlen Specter in 2001.
Trump’s bulk purchase could also be seen as an attempt to game the bestseller lists, although the publishers of those lists typically adjust for bulk purchases and don’t count large buys from Amazon or the book’s publishers.
This doesn’t always work, however. In 2012, two business authors used a marketing firm to make bulk purchases of their books, and both ended up on the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list, albeit only briefly.
In 2011, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s book “This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey To The White House” reached #4 on the New York Times bestseller list the week it was released. That year, Herman Cain’s campaign paid more than $36,000 for copies of it and another book he had written via a company he owns, T.H.E. New Voice.
A book controversy over book purchases once led to the downfall of a politician: House Speaker Jim Wright, the Texas Democrat who resigned his post in 1989.
Wright had written a book called “Reflections of a Public Man” and asked groups to whom he would give speeches to compensate him by purchasing copies of the book in bulk in an attempt to get around legally mandated caps on speaking fees.