Two news items this morning bring more evidence that President Trump and his family have turned the White House into a personal profit center.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that a review of records released by Trump’s presidential transition office, Trump for America, suggests that contributions from businesses eager to curry favor with the president were used to pay rent for transition offices at New York City’s Trump Tower.
Trump for America first explored paying the rent out of funds set aside by Congress for transition expenses, the Center said. That alternative ultimately was not pursued and Trump for America has filed a disclosure report indicating it spent $258,000 for “rent and utilities” in the weeks before the president’s inauguration.
Trump for America did not disclose who received those payments but there’s no indication that the organization occupied offices other than those at Trump Tower. Past presidents have used government-owned office space in the Washington, D.C. area for their transitions but Trump chose to use the familiar quarters at Trump Tower, where he also has a residence.
“Is there self-dealing? And if there is, the public has the right to know,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, told the Center for Public Integrity. “I understand it’s private money, but part of it is, it’s intending to influence the administration.”
Since Trump took office, his family’s hotels and resorts have become popular destinations for business and trade association gatherings and various Republican Party functions. Politico reports today that the National Republican Congressional Committee will use a Trump-owned winery in Virginia for a fundraising push centered around Mother’s Day.
The NRCC is offering to enter donors in a raffle for an all-expenses paid weekend at the Trump winery near Charlottesville and the historic homes of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Politico said the prize package includes four round-trip coach-class plane tickets valued at $1,300; lodging for four valued at $1,200 at Albemarle Estate, a Trump hotel on the winery’s property; and four tickets, valued at $300, to a Mother's Day brunch event at the winery; plus $50 for ground transportation.
Office: Common Cause National