White House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration
Republicans have spent $3.5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report
The news outlet found that at least 125 Republican candidates and conservative groups have been spending money at Trump-brand resorts, hotels and restaurants across the country, according to data provided to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Democrats have not spent any money, McClatchy noted.
Top Trump supporters like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) and Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C) were among those who spent money at Trump businesses, McClatchy found.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has at times disagreed with the president but is believed to be on friendly terms, has also dined at Trump-branded locations.
The outlet found that Paul's campaign and leadership PAC have previously spent $400 at Trump's National Golf Course near D.C. and dropped $2,000 at BLT Prime Steakhouse inside Trump's D.C. hotel.
"We host small donor events there, and also hold them at plenty of other restaurants in D.C.," Paul spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper told the outlet. "Donors love that location, and when you're raising money it makes sense to hold events where the donors like to be."
The $3.5 million spent since Trump's inauguration is a big increase from the $35,000 political candidates and groups spent at Trump businesses during the two-year 2014 election cycle, FEC records indicate, according to McClatchy.
One of the biggest spenders since January 2017 was America First Action, a super PAC dedicated to supporting pro-Trump candidates.
The outlet found that the group spend more than $225,000 - primarily at Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel - on rental fees, meals and lodging.
"The simple fact is that our supporters and friends are excited when we do so," spokeswoman Erin Montgomery told McClatchy. "It's a unique experience for them, they are excellent locations, and the staff are wonderful to work with."
Other big spenders include the Republican National Committee (RNC), the Republican Governors Association and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The RNC has spent nearly $2 million at Trump properties, roughly half of which was spent hosting the GOP spring meeting at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.
McClatchy noted that the RNC paid $375,000 to Trump's D.C. hotel and nearly $350,000 at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump's campaign has spent more than $800,000 at Trump properties, the outlet also found.
The president himself has visited one of his own properties on 175 days since he took office, according to data released by the White House compiled by McClatchy.
Trump typically spends his weekends at Mar-a-Lago in the winter and Bedminster, N.J., in the summer. He returns Monday from a 10-day vacation at the New Jersey golf resort, the outlet noted.
The Trump Organization encompasses about 500 different Trump businesses.
The president has drawn scrutiny for failing to fully divest from his business interests after taking office.
Trump is facing a lawsuit, filed by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, claiming that the president is violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without congressional approval.
The lawsuit focuses on the profit Trump makes from foreign officials staying in his Washington, D.C., hotel.