A super PAC aligned with former President Donald J. Trump paid Melania Trump $155,000 in late 2021, an unusual payment that was not visible in the group’s initial federal reports and came to light only in a new filing by Mr. Trump on Thursday.
The money was listed as pay for a “speaking engagement” by Ms. Trump in the new filing, a personal financial disclosure by Mr. Trump. The $155,000 payment was made in December 2021 by Make America Great Again, Again, which at the time was Mr. Trump’s leading super PAC.
Ms. Trump’s name, however, did not appear on the super PAC’s list of expenditures, which were made public last year.
Instead, the super PAC’s report showed two payments, for $125,000 and $30,000, to “Designer’s Management Agency,” which lists Ms. Trump as a client, according to its website. The payments were made on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, 2021; in the new disclosure, Mr. Trump reported that Ms. Trump was paid $155,000 on Dec. 2, 2021.
In the super PAC’s filing, those two payments were labeled “event planning and consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records. Federal rules are generally lax when it comes to requiring that the final destination of money be revealed. Instead, committees must disclose only the first vendor paid.
Mr. Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a representative for Ms. Trump did not immediately respond to an email. Pam Bondi, who served at the time as the chair of Make America Great Again, Again, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That super PAC has since folded and in late 2022 transferred $8.9 million to a new, similarly named pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc.
The December 2021 payment to Ms. Trump coincided with a private fund-raising dinner that the super PAC held at Mar-a-Lago and that Mr. Trump attended. Seats at the dinner were sold for $125,000 each and $250,000 for a couple.
Trump-aligned groups and candidates have repeatedly held events at his private club in Florida. The Make America Great Again, Again super PAC spent more than $350,000 at Mar-a-Lago in 2021 and 2022.
The payments to Ms. Trump were not included in the first financial disclosure form covering Mr. Trump’s 2024 candidacy that he filed this spring, but they were among several payments for speaking engagements by Ms. Trump in 2021 and 2022 that were newly added, along with other revisions.
Among the other speaking fees that Ms. Trump reported receiving were a $250,000 payment from Log Cabin Republicans in December 2022 and a $250,000 payment the next day from Fix California, a group founded by Richard Grenell, a former senior Trump administration official and a close ally of the president.
This is not the first time a political committee connected to Mr. Trump has made a payment related to his wife. Ms. Trump’s stylist was paid $132,000 in 2022 by Save America, a political action committee that became the vehicle to park tens of millions of dollars raised by Mr. Trump in the weeks after the November 2020 election. As he made repeated false claims of widespread election fraud, he received small-dollar contributions from supporters who wanted to help him fight to stay in office.
Save America paid for some of Mr. Trump’s political activities after he left office, and the group has donated some money to help other candidates. But a significant chunk of that money has been dedicated to paying legal fees for Mr. Trump and some witnesses in cases against him.
Shane Goldmacher is a national political reporter and was previously the chief political correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times, he worked at Politico, where he covered national Republican politics and the 2016 presidential campaign. More about Shane Goldmacher
Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. More about Maggie Haberman
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