Records from the Federal Election Commission show that the RNC spent over $400,000 in August on “donor mementos” from Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion.com and Porchlight Books.
It’s not clear how much of that spending was for Hannity’s book, but Salon reported it was at least $145,000.
A representative for Porchlight Books told Salon, which first pointed out the FEC filings, that the RNC’s orders for “Live Free or Die” matched an Aug. 5 spending report of $26,100 and an Aug. 19 spending report of $119,250.
A Barnes & Noble spokesperson told HuffPost that it could not comment on the nature of purchases. Books-A-Million and the RNC did not respond to questions.
Hannity came under fire ahead of his book’s Aug. 4 release when fundraising emails from “Trump Headquarters” offered “priority access” to copies of “Live Free or Die” signed by Hannity to supporters who made a donation of $75 or more. Despite the network’s supposed rules barring employees from participating in campaign events, Fox News referred HuffPost to the book’s publisher when pressed at the time on their star’s involvement with the president’s campaign.
It’s not unusual for a political campaign to tie books to donations, but it is unusual for a major news network host to join such fundraising efforts. Hannity has a history of disregarding that norm ― and he’s been slapped on the wrist for it in the past.
In 2016, following Hannity’s featured appearance in an ad from the Trump campaign, Fox News said he would not be permitted to appear in any other promotional materials for the remainder of the election season. Then in 2018, after he joined President Donald Trump onstage at a Missouri rally, the network told HuffPost that it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.”
Hannity’s book, which topped Amazon’s bestseller list too, also got a personal promo from the president himself to his more than 85 million Twitter followers.
Donald Trump Jr.’s new self-published book, “Liberal Privilege,” had a similar promotional arrangement with the RNC and could possibly make up another portion of that August spending. The committee confirmed to The Hill in July that it would pre-order copies of the book for donors. However, the Porchlight spokesperson told Salon that the RNC did not make any bulk orders for Trump Jr.’s book; the two other retailers and the RNC did not comment.
The RNC bought copies of Trump Jr.’s latest book for less than $20 each before offering them as mementos for donations over $75, The New York Times reported in August. The use of Hannity’s book followed a similar formula, the Times wrote.
Trump Jr.’s 2019 book, “Triggered,” skyrocketed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list upon publication last year, after the RNC spent almost $95,000 buying copies before it was published. It appeared on the list with a dagger symbol, signifying that bulk sales contributed to its ranking.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.