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For Donald Trump, the election is hardly 'over'

Donald Trump declared over the weekend, "The election is over!" It's pretty obvious, however, that he doesn't believe that at all.
Vice president-elect Mike Pence, watches as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during an election night rally, Nov. 9, 2016, in N.Y. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)
Vice president-elect Mike Pence, watches as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during an election night rally, Nov. 9, 2016, in N.Y.
Yesterday morning, Donald Trump wasn't just annoyed by Tax Day protests related to his tax returns, he also suggested, "Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday." In reality, the events weren't especially small. For that matter, the fact that the president is hiding his tax returns while accusing his critics of having secret financiers added a nice, ironic twist.But in the same tweet, Trump declared, "The election is over!" Exactly six minutes earlier, the president was tweeting about how impressed he remains about his Electoral College victory last year.Whether he's prepared to acknowledge this or not, the fact remains that for Donald Trump, the election is never over. In fact, as the New York Times reported, Trump fundraising for the next election is just getting started.

President Trump is raising money toward a bid for a second term earlier than any incumbent president in recent history, pulling in tens of millions of dollars in the months after his election and through his inauguration.Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday showed that Mr. Trump's campaign brought in $7.1 million during the first three months of 2017, on top of over $23 million raised with the Republican Party. By contrast, President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee brought in a total of about $15 million during the first three months of his first term in 2009.

A Washington Post report added that Trump, "unlike his predecessors ... has not ceased fundraising since his election." On the contrary, in January, Trump formally filed the paperwork for his re-election campaign, kept open his campaign office's headquarters, hired staff to work on his 2020 bid, and even hosted a swing-state campaign rally in support of his re-election effort, several years too early.The ongoing fundraising efforts, naturally, are part of Team Trump's permanent campaign. When the president declares, "The election is over!" it's effectively a punch-line to a sad joke.Making matters slightly worse, the Wall Street Journal paid special attention to where some of the Trump campaign's money is going.

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign and joint party committees continued to direct funds to his companies in the first quarter of the year, paying close to $500,000 to Trump-owned hotels, golf clubs and restaurants, according to new campaign-finance disclosures.The new reports, filed late Friday with the Federal Election Commission, showed that Mr. Trump's campaign directed more than 6% of the $6.3 million it spent in the first three months of 2017 to the president's companies, including $274,013 in rent to Trump Tower, $58,685 for lodging to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and $13,828 for facility rental and catering to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

In case this isn't obvious, Trump may not directly manage those private-sector ventures, but he still owns them. When these enterprises make money, he makes money.Last summer, a made-up word started gaining traction in political circles: "scampaign." The idea was that Trump had the ability to raise lots of money, and while the law prohibited him sticking it in his pocket, he could spend it on his own business enterprises, indirectly profiting from his own electoral bid, effectively combining a "campaign" and a "scam."Voters, evidently, didn't much care -- which Trump has apparently interpreted as a green light to keep doing it.Several years ago, Donald Trump joked during an interview, "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." With the benefit of hindsight, I'm still not sure he was kidding.