Just days before the November 8 election, Republican Donald Trump was rushed off the stage by two Secret Service agents during a campaign event in Reno, Nevada, after a commotion erupted and the billionaire businessman momentarily appeared to be in danger.
When Trump returned to the stage a few minutes later, he offered the Secret Service agents high praise. “These guys are fantastic,” he declared.
But once Trump and his Secret Service escorts climbed back on the Republican’s black-and-red Boeing 757 and took off for the next campaign stop, the meter started ticking again for Trump’s Secret Service protectors.
As Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, when it comes to political campaigns, there are no free rides for the Secret Service. Although the federal government poured $200 million or more into protecting presidential candidates this year, the U.S. Secret Service is obliged to pay for all agent travel, including aboard airplanes, trains, boats or automobiles.
The campaigns of both Trump, the president-elect, and Democrat Hillary Clinton received a total of $5.4 million for allowing Secret Service agents to travel aboard their airplanes, according to Bloomberg. The funds were split roughly 50-50 between the two campaigns, with Trump’s organization receiving $2.74 million and Clinton a nearly equal amount, based on the latest tally from the Federal Election Commission.
Unlike Clinton, whose campaign had to charter an airplane to get around the country, the wealthy New York businessman had his own jets to commandeer for his campaigns. Consequently, while the Secret Service paid its pro-rata share of travel costs to Clinton’s charter company, the federal protective agency effectively paid Trump directly for the travel costs, which still cost a pretty penny.
But it’s not necessarily cheaper to own (Trump) than it is to rent (Clinton). Clinton spends about $5,850 per hour to fly her rental, a Dassault Falcon 900 B, built in France. Trump, whose custom Boeing 757 cost $100 million, spends about $10,800 an hour.
For a man as wealthy as Trump, $2.74 million probably seems like loose change. Yet the Republican presidential elect is notoriously frugal, and he repeatedly found ways to milk his campaign for extra income.
For instance, after bragging for a year about how cheaply he was running his campaign when he was personally covering most of the cost, Trump reportedly quintupled the monthly rent his campaign paid for its headquarters at Trump Tower, after he began raising funds from donors. He also hit up his campaign for fat fees for campaign events at Trump’s plush country clubs and golf resorts in Florida.