Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s presidential campaign is trying to explain a series of payments it recently made to an unusual entity.
The Washington Post on Thursday questioned Trump’s camp about a series of rapid payments to Left Hand Enterprises LLC, which received three payments totaling $730,637 over five days last month before Indiana’s critical GOP presidential primary.
The timing of the payments was unusual, falling just a few days after the group was established in Delaware and a short time before Left Hand, which the Trump camp said is a direct mail company, was set to send materials to voters.
Two payments were made on April 28-29, leaving Left Hand mere days from reaching Indiana voters casting ballots on May 3. A third payment took place on May 2, eight days before the Nebraska contest.
The Washington Post said Left Hand received its contract while Trump’s campaign had two separate budgets.
Then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski handled one budget, which applied to Trump campaign headquarters and travel expenses.
Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, meanwhile, oversaw the second budget, which dealt with state operations.
The invoices for Left Hand went through the budget controlled by Manafort, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Washington Post.
Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, said late Thursday the Trump campaign’s contact at Left Hand was Darrin Schmitz.
Schmitz, a former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, said the same evening he was brought aboard Trump’s campaign by Rick Wiley, its former field director.
“The campaign reached out looking for higher quality mail at a cheaper price point than what they were getting, and we delivered on that,” Schmitz said in an email.
“As a founder of LHE, I wanted to expand our client services and grow a new national footprint. It had nothing to do with any one client, including Trump.”
Wiley on Thursday confirmed he sought out Schmitz’s services before eventually leaving the Trump campaign in late May.
“Mr. Trump self-funded his campaign and I wanted to make sure we were spending his money wisely, and were getting the best pricing on the services needed to secure the nomination,” he said in an email. "I’m proud of the work I did for Mr. Trump and this vendor saved us tens of thousands of dollars on this project.”
The Washington Post said Schmitz is president of Persuasion Partners, a direct-mail service located in Madison, Wis.
Wiley did not respond to a question about why Schmitz’s firm is located in Wilmington, the newspaper added.
Lewandowski on Thursday said he does not believe the purchases are untoward, adding Trump guards his finances carefully.
“I can tell you that if there’s anything that has not been appropriate, Mr. Trump will find it and fix it," he said on CNN.
“I can tell you because I have worked there for an extended period of time that every dime that goes out of that building is scrutinized," added Lewandowski, who was fired from Trump's campaign three days ago. "He watches this money because it has been his money for so long."