In early January, Eric Trump took a for-profit business trip to Uruguay, and it cost the U.S. taxpayers almost $100,000. While Donald Trump hadn’t even yet been sworn in as president, American citizens paid a total of $97,830 so that Eric Trump could “safely” travel to Uruguay on business for the sole purpose of promoting and furthering the Trump brand.
Taxpayers were forced to unwittingly and unwillingly foot the bill for the Eric Trump Uruguay trip in order to cover the cost of Secret Service protection, as well as to pay for requisite embassy staff for the purpose of serving and protecting the son of the then-president-elect. As the Washington Post reports, the bill for the Secret Service to stay in Uruguay hotel rooms was a whopping $88,320; the embassy support staff’s hotel room cost the U.S. taxpayers $9,510 more.
According to records, the Eric Trump Uruguay visit was labeled a “VIP visit,” per purchase orders connected to the pre-inauguration Trump son business vacation to Uruguay.
While Secret Service members and others accrued a bill totaling nearly $100,000, the adult “first son” casually dined in Uruguay, put on airs before a crowd of hundreds at the exclusive (or even “ultra exclusive,” according to promotional materials) Trump Tower Punta del Este, while rubbing elbows at a dinner party, and mingled with folks in the real estate world sure to add more money to the Trump business coffers.
In the wake of the news that Eric Trump conducted business in Uruguay on the taxpayer’s dime, many are wondering if the new president can truly separate his personal financial and business interests with his more pressing (but requisite to be legally separate) job as president. Donald Trump, Eric Trump, and the rest of the Trump clan have vowed to keep Donald’s presidential interests and his duty to the American government separate.
However, if the globetrotting Trump kids are having their security detail paid for on the taxpayer’s dime as they fervently promote their brand and try to increase their worth, many are wondering if such a separation is even possible.
Perhaps even more concerning to taxpayers, when Eric Trump and his team were confronted about the controversial, nearly $100,000 in security expenses, Eric Trump did not make efforts to be available for an interview. Nor would the son of the president even answer a list of questions about the pricey Uruguay trip.
As The Chicago Tribune reports, the Eric Trump Uruguay trip could have been as brief as two short days. However, specifics of the Uruguay trip are sketchy, with even Secret Service spokespersons refusing to comment to the media. According to the department’s spokesman, divulging the specifics of the Eric Trump Uruguay trip could lead to security problems
According to Kathleen Clark, Washington University law professor and government expert, the Trump family and its business ties are muddying the waters.
“This is an example of the blurring of the line between the personal interest in the family business and the government.”
3. The US government is now a promotional vehicle for the Trump Org and you are paying for it— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 3, 2017
The Secret Service is being tight-lipped about the Eric Trump Uruguay trip, and the organization refuses to even make the duration of Eric Trump’s Uruguay stay, the number of hotel rooms U.S. taxpayers paid for, or the name of the hotel that billed the U.S. government a matter of public record.
“There is a public benefit to providing Secret Service protection. But what was the public benefit from State Department personnel participating in this private business trip to the coastal town? It raises the specter of the use of public resources for private gain.”
While controversial and costly, particularly considering the Trump business interests and potential for profit from international travel, the U.S. Secret Service guarantees that the immediate family members of presidents will be protected. This is particularly true in instances of international travel. This protection extends to the children of presidents, even when they reach adulthood.
“The Secret Service does not have an option as to when it is, where it is, nor as to how much it costs, and whether it’s domestic or international. Think about the consequences of something happening to one of the children. The security of it outweighs the expenses of it.”
Incidentally, the Trump family are not the actual owners of the Punta del Este; the developers simply licensed the Trump name. However, the Trump family (including Donald and Eric) profited handsomely from their name being featured on the Uruguay project. Reportedly, the Trump clan brought in between $100,000 and $1 million.
The Uruguay Trump-associated project is slated for completion in late 2018.
While Eric Trump was on Uruguay trip, at a cost of nearly $100,000 to U.S. taxpayers, the Trump heir attempted to avert attention from his political ties.
“I don’t speak politics. It’s not my world. I’m a business guy.”
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]