Is MTG's Book Such a Flop She Hasn't Made a Dime From It?

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

MAGA firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene appears to have recently skipped reporting any income from the book she published late last year, stepping into an ethical gray zone.

The memoir, entitled MTG, details the congresswoman’s time in Washington and was published by Winning Team Publishing, a company founded by Donald Trump Jr. and Sergio Gor, who insiders know as “the Mayor of Mar-a-Lago.”

The company hawks books by right-wing influencers like Charlie Kirk, Steve Bannon, and even former President Donald Trump. Winning Team is currently selling one bundle that includes Trump’s coffee-table book and other signed swag for $999 a pop.

Greene’s book is far more affordable—$30 for a regular edition, $49.99 signed. But the personal financial disclosure Greene filed with the House this spring does not mention the book, Winning Team, or a royalty agreement.

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In a statement to The Daily Beast, Greene’s office suggested that’s above board.

“Congresswoman Greene’s book agreement was reviewed and approved by the House Ethics Committee and in 2023 there was no financial activity that required reporting,” Greene’s office wrote.

That could only be true if Greene received virtually no royalties for book sales in 2023, since the ethics committee instruction guide stipulates that members must disclose ownership interests in intellectual property worth more than $1,000 or that earned more than $200 of income.

It is certainly possible that Greene’s memoir didn’t sell well enough to make money last year. Members of Congress are prohibited from receiving advances on royalties, so they have to depend on profits from copies sold. Greene’s book came out in late November and has only a handful of reviews on Amazon dated before the new year.

But even then, congressional ethics experts say they expect more transparency.

“Even if she hasn't received any royalty payments, my understanding is that she's required to report anticipated royalties in some way,” Robert Maguire, vice president for research and ethics at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily Beast.

The House Ethics Committee has previously issued confusing guidance about whether members of Congress need to disclose royalty agreements in addition to royalties paid. That can leave lawmakers unsure how to stay on the right side of the rules.

Last year, when The Daily Beast reported that Rep. Lauren Boebert failed to disclose book royalties, Boebert’s spokesperson said she hadn’t yet earned money from her deal and provided evidence that the committee had advised her that she didn’t need to disclose more. That advice ran counter to other Ethics committee guidelines.

“Part of the problem here could be mixed messages from the Ethics officials in Congress,’” Maguire said. “But it seems pretty clear, just based on the rules, that any royalties, whether or not they've been received by the member, should be reported in some way on the financial disclosure.”

One line in particular in the instruction guide for this year’s disclosures implies that members of Congress need to disclose book deals, even if they have yet to profit off their work.

“This includes any advances and contract payments in the form of earned income that have not yet been received for transfer of the intellectual property to the publisher, as well as any royalties currently due from the publisher for completed sales,” the guide states in a paragraph about disclosure requirements. “When an interest in future royalties cannot be ascertained, it is acceptable to disclose the value as ‘undetermined.’”

Kedric Payne, vice president, general counsel, and senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog, told The Daily Beast that that sentence suggests members of Congress need to share more than Greene did.

“I think there's a good argument that if you have an agreement for a book deal where you're supposed to receive royalties, even if there's a chance that it's not going to actually result in royalties, you should say it's not determined,” he said.

Other lawmakers have taken various approaches to disclosing. Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan listed his book, published in November 2021, on his 2021 personal financial disclosure as an asset of “undetermined” value, even though he also reported that he hadn’t yet earned any income from it. By 2022, it had made somewhere between $100,000 and $1 million. Rep. Steve Scalise, on the other hand, left his 2018 book off that year's disclosure, then added it as an asset that earned him five figures in 2019.

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No other member of Congress is listed among the authors on Winning Team’s website. But Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake, who published a book with Winning Team a few months before Greene, did report receiving $100,000 in royalties from the company. That sum may represent money Lake already pocketed in the form of an advance, which she could accept since she’s not currently a member of Congress.

Payne emphasized that it’s the members’ responsibility to be transparent about their book deals. “Anyone would expect that earnings from a book sale would be disclosed here, and it's up to the member to explain if there's any small exception that would exclude disclosing it,” he said.

The public can at least look forward to learning more next year. That’s because there’s evidence in a Federal Election Commission report that Greene sold several thousand dollars worth of copies in January.

The Tarrant County Republican Victory Fund reported paying Winning Team Publishing nearly $13,000 for an “MTG Event on 01/27, 400 Books.”

An online sign-up form indicates that the county party hosted a fundraiser with Greene in Fort Worth that day and that tickets to the event, which raised more than $33,000, included copies of her book.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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