The Slatest

FEC Document Concludes Trump Paid Actors to Attend Event at Which He Launched 2016 Campaign

Donald Trump’s campaign launch announcement on June 16, 2015, at Trump Tower in New York City.

Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Shortly after Donald Trump announced that he was running for president, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that a New York–based casting agency called Extra Mile had apparently hired actors to fill out his announcement event (which took place on June 16, 2015, at Trump Tower in New York). Trump’s team immediately denied that anyone at the announcement was a paid actor. A document released Thursday by the Federal Election Commission, however, concludes otherwise.

The FEC document is, specifically, a record of its decision not to sanction the Trump campaign for conduct related to the apparent transaction. A complaint filed by an activist group that supported Hillary Clinton had alleged that the Trump camp had violated reporting laws related to payments for the actors; the FEC concluded that no significant violation had occurred because the campaign later disclosed a payment to a contractor (Gotham Government Relations) that subcontracted with Extra Mile. But in the course of explaining why it would not discipline the campaign, the FEC concludes that some announcement attendees were, in fact, paid to be there:


In this matter, the available information indicates that the [Trump campaign] retained Gotham as an event consultant, and Gotham, in turn, subcontracted with Extra Mile to provide extra administrative support at Trump’s announcement, including the provision of at least some of the rally crowd.

To be clear, Extra Mile is a “background talent” casting agency. It does not provide, like, secretarial services.

Trump’s campaign told the FEC it was not aware that Gotham had arranged to hire actors for the event and did not instruct it to do so.

As it happens, paid Trump staffers were on hand on Jan. 11 to clap and cheer during the only press conference Trump held as president-elect.