Is Trump’s DC Hotel Acting as a Money-Launderer in Pay-For-Endorsements Scheme?

 
 

One Event at Trump's D.C. Hotel Includes a $10,000-Per-Person Photo With the President Opportunity

In the old days, if a politician wanted an endorsement from, say, the President of the United States, they would find a way to ask for it. Maybe a phone call, maybe a word with high-level officials in the lawmaker's party – which the President heads.

In the Trump era, politicians wanting an endorsement from the President apparently have a new way to get it: book an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. That's sure to get the President's attention.

"Trump endorsements follow in the wake of candidates spending money at his properties," a report from Fast Company, shows eight GOP politicians or PACs associated with them have held events or spent money at Trump properties, usually his D.C. hotel – which were followed with endorsements from President Trump.

A PAC run by Vice President Mike Pence and GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is running to become the next Speaker of the House, has spent over $225,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., including $7500 at Trump’s Bedminster golf course, which goes to the D.C. hotel.

Trump "signaled his support for Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) candidacy for Speaker of the House" at one of the events last month at Trump's D.C. hotel.

“It raises the specter that the president is essentially enriching himself by virtue of his position,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) told Fast Company. “Because if you have other politicians who think they’re more likely to get the president’s support if they spend money at his hotels or his golf courses or his other businesses, they’re more likely to do that and the president makes more money.”

Fast Company notes that Rep. McCarthy's main competition for Speaker of the House comes from Rep. Jim Jordan. Congressman Jordan is a big Trump supporter – but not financially. Jordan's campaign has spent just $3000 at a Trump property.

Making it seem all the more possible that Trump properties are in effect acting as money-laundering agents in a pay-for-endorsements scheme, a White House deputy press secretary, the Trump Organization, and the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., "did not reply when asked if any employees ever told a campaign that patronizing a Trump business could put the candidate in President Trump’s good graces."

It would seem like a question about the President's ethics would garner some sort of response, certainly a denial. But reportedly, nothing.

Fast Company names these politicians: Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.); Reps. Tom Reed (R–NY), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Republican John James, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Michigan, as having received endorsements after spending money at a Trump property.

On Monday, James was forced to apologize after a Nazi swastika was found in footage of his campaign ad. He claims it was a mistake. Some Democratic strategists say that's impossible.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted out an endorsement for James.

Also on the list is Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), whose PAC spent a mere $292 at Trump's D.C. hotel.

But wait, there's more.

Next week President Trump will headline a fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. for New Jersey Republican assemblyman Jay Webber, who is running for Congress.

"The October 25 event seeking hard money contributions, includes a $20,000-per-person roundtable with Trump and a photo with the president for $10,000-per-person," the New Jersey Globe reports today.

Trump tweeted out his "Full and Total Endorsement!" of Webber last month:

Image by Mike Maguire via Flickr and a CC license

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