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John Kruzel
By John Kruzel April 27, 2018

Were Diamond and Silk paid by the Trump campaign?

Pro-Donald Trump activists Diamond and Silk insisted in sworn congressional testimony that they never received payment from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

"We have never been paid by the Trump campaign," Lynnette Hardaway repeatedly told the House Judiciary Committee during an April 26 hearing. Hardaway makes up half the social media ensemble, along with her sister Rochelle Richardson.

Diamond and Silk stuck to their claim even after confronted with an FEC filing showing the campaign gave them $1,274. We decided to look closer.

Travel expense reimbursement

Diamond and Silk were on Capitol Hill for a hearing into allegations that social networks like Facebook censor conservative content, when the conversation veered toward their relationship with Trump.

In a contentious exchange with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Hardaway said five times that the activists have never been paid by the Trump campaign.

Later, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., reminded the sisters they were under oath and subject to perjury, before asking them about receiving money from Trump’s campaign. He cited an FEC filing showing the Trump campaign gave them $1,274 for "field consulting."

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Richardson explained the money was reimbursement for travel expenses the sisters incurred for airfare to a 2016 event called Women for Trump. The reference to "field consulting," she said, may have been a mistake on the Trump campaign’s part.

Bradley Crate, the treasurer for Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., sent PolitiFact an email that corroborated the sisters’ claim about reimbursement:

"The issue regarding Diamond and Silk is merely one of semantics, resulting from a reasonable misunderstanding of the Campaign’s reporting obligations. The Campaign’s payment to Diamond and Silk for field consulting was based on an invoice they submitted reflecting their costs for air travel to a Campaign event. The invoice was not supported by accompanying receipts, so as a technical matter, could not be reported as a reimbursement even though its purpose was to make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs."

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen, a progressive consumer rights advocacy group, said, "The payment sounds like a reasonable reimbursement of travel costs."

But he noted because the payment was not accompanied with receipts and was thus declared as payment for services by the Trump campaign, the activists "are obligated to declare it as income and pay taxes on it."

That said, reasonable people can disagree about whether reimbursement for travel expenses constitutes "pay" or not.

Our ruling

Pro-Donald Trump activists Diamond and Silk said, "We have never been paid by the Trump campaign."

The social media ensemble received $1,274 from the Trump campaign. It was a one-time payment and both parties maintain it was reimbursement for travel expenses.

Because reasonable people can disagree about whether reimbursement for travel expenses constitutes "pay" or not, we rate this Mostly True.

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