President Donald Trump’s many conflicts of interest were affirmed in a new Federal Election Commission filing this week. Trump’s campaign paid to rent space at his own properties in New Jersey and Miami. The RNC also paid to hold an event at Trump’s newest hotel in Washington, D.C.
A Washington Post report found that the Trump campaign spent $9.6 million in December with $700,000 in refunds of improper or excessive contributions. Trump’s properties, however, reported impressive financial gains reigniting the debate that Trump’s conflicts of interests are not being handled properly.
“Trump and the party also directed more than $413,000 in December to Trump properties or family members. Altogether, the campaign and the RNC spent more than $14 million on Trump hotels, office rental, airfare, catering and other expenses over the course of the election.”
Just days after Trump was sworn in as president, the cost to join his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida doubled. The Trump Organization’s decision to increase the price of admission from $100,000 to $200,000 was due to the surge in applications to join the club after Trump won the election.
After the price increase, the Trump Organization named Bobby Burchfield, a Republican Party lawyer, as an independent ethics adviser. The New York Times reported that the Republican Party lawyer’s appointment was a sign of the Trump Organization’s commitment to addressing the potential conflicts of interest.
This weekend, Trump’s conflicts of interest are back in the headlines for two events the president will be attending at his Mar-a-Lago resort. On Saturday, the first of two events throughout Super Bowl Weekend will be American Red Cross’ annual ball. Donors are paying $1,250 to $100,000 to attend the ball.
Common Dreams reports that thousands of protesters are expected to arrive before the event.
“The International Red Cross 2017 Ball is poised to be met with more than a thousand protesters who say the charity’s humanitarian mission conflicts with Trump’s authoritarian first week in office. Another five thousand have also registered their interest in the march, which will go from Trump Plaza to Bingham Island to greet the gala’s fireworks display.”
On Sunday, Trump will also be attending a Super Bowl watch party at the membership-only Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach.
Trump’s refusal to sell his assets and open a blind trust for his businesses have amplified concerns about his conflicts of interest. New documents obtained and published by ProPublica show Trump set up a revocable trust where his son, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump Organization chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, will have legal authority over his assets.
The New York Times reports the trust gives the appearance that Trump is no longer involved with his business, but the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust clearly states the purpose of it is for the benefit of the president.
“I don’t see how this in the slightest bit avoids a conflict of interest,” Frederick Tansill, a trust and estates lawyer said.
“First it is revocable at any time, and it is his son and his chief financial officer who are running it.”
Trump’s decision to hold events at his properties for Super Bowl Sunday is a sign he is not trying to quiet reports of his conflicts of interest.
Even a joke or a tweet about the poor ratings Arnold Schwarzenegger is reigning in as the new host of The Apprentice can be construed as a conflict of interest. Trump is currently listed as an executive producer for the NBC reality show, and even though he only makes a five-figure salary, the show’s advertisers are technically lining Trump’s pockets by proxy.
Trump’s current ties to the The Apprentice, his Super Bowl party at Mar-a-Lago, and his business being paid by the RNC is just a few of the many examples proving that many more reports about the president’s conflicts of interests are inevitable.
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