Trump's Astonishing Campaign Financials and the Mystery of 'Draper Sterling'

Presumptive GOP Presidential Nominee's Latest FEC Form 3P Has Media in a Tizzy

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Unlike Donald Trump's tax returns, which he continues to refuse to release, you're more than welcome to look at his campaign's latest Federal Election Commission Form 3P ("REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS BY AN AUTHORIZED COMMITTEE OF A CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OR VICE PRESIDENT"), which is public record by law. Click here to download it in PDF form, so you can join in the rubbernecking at the train wreck.

As The New York Times put it in a breaking news alert that went out Monday night at 10:57 p.m. ET, "Trump faces the worst financial disadvantage in recent presidential history: He had $1.3 million on hand to Clinton's $42 million." That alert pointed to a story by Nicholas Confessore and Rachel Shorey headlined "Donald Trump Starts Summer Push With Crippling Money Deficit."

But the Times is also promoting the story online with an alternate headline, "Trump Starts Summer Push With Staggering Money Deficit," and in print, the upper-righthand main story on the front page of the Times this morning comes with a three-part headline:

Clinton Had $41 Million More on Hand at Start of June

Yeah, so it's bad. Really bad. Haul-out-the-thesaurus bad.

How many ways can journalists express shock at Trump's staggering, crippling deep hole of a war chest? Lots and lots! "Troubling" is popping up plenty, as in the Daily News' "Behind the numbers of Donald Trump's troubling new FEC filings: Little cash for the billionaire businessman." We've got "paltry" ("FEC: Trump Has Paltry $1.3M Cash On Hand To Clinton's $42.5M War Chest," courtesy of Talking Points Memo) and even "penniless" ("Donald Trump's Campaign Is Nearly Penniless," per The Atlantic). And this pointed dig from The Daily Beast: "Trump's Campaign Is So Broke It Couldn't Afford a Condo in Trump Tower."

If you can't bear to download and review the full FEC report or wade through all the breathless press reports, various journos have helpfully been deconstructing the Trump campaign's financials in bite-sized form on Twitter, including Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and The Atlantic's James Fallows:

Oh, and wouldya look at this? Judd Legum of Think Progress did a little internet sleuthing regarding Draper Sterling (hey, sounds kinda familiar!), which the Trump campaign, according to its latest FEC Form 3P, recently hired to create advertising:

I did just a tiny bit more sleuthing, and though so far it's not clear who works out of Draper Sterling HQ, from this Zillow description of the $450,000 home (per its August 27, 2015 sale), it sounds pretty nice:

This beautiful open-concept expanded cape is an entertainers dream. A 4 Bed 4 Bath home, with master suite, features a grand staircase with cathedral ceilings and fine finishes including hardwood floors, tile and crown molding. Enjoy a cook's kitchen equipped with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, a sunken family room, and formal living room with fireplace. The dinning room and sunroom lead to a large deck with swimming pool and grilling area plumbed with on demand propane. This home's open design is filled with an abundance of natural light afforded by the multiple automated skylights and large Anderson windows. This home is conveniently wired for sound, a home generator and irrigation system to maintain the professionally landscape grounds. Finished lower level provides additional living space or could be used for extended family or in-law potential. Oversized 2 car garage with checkered VCT tiled floor is a custom workspace for both parking and storage.

By the way, Legum graciously offered this possibility in a later tweet:

Stay tuned!

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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