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Senate Introduces Bill To Stop Tax Payer-Funded Travel At Trump Properties

President Donald J. Trump aboard Marine One lands back at Mar-a-Lago as an escort helicopter hovers Friday, March 29, 2019
President Donald J. Trump aboard Marine One lands back at Mar-a-Lago as an escort helicopter hovers Friday, March 29, 2019. (Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian, official White House photo)

According to CREW, the president has spent nearly a third of his presidency visiting his business properties at taxpayer expense.

More than 30 Senate Democrats proposed a law this week to ban the spending of taxpayer funds on properties owned by President Trump. The proposal comes in the wake of reports showing frequent Air Force stays at Trump properties, and a month after a report by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) found that Trump has visited his properties at least 362 times at taxpayer expense since his 2017 inauguration.

“Since President Trump took office, the American people have witnessed an unprecedented arrangement that has funneled taxpayer dollars into the President’s pockets,” said Sen. Gary Peters, who led the legislation and is the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bill, called the Heightened Oversight of Travel, Eating and Lodging or HOTEL Act, would put oversight to what CREW has found as a “recorded 630 visits to Trump properties from at least 250 Trump administration officials” since the president’s inauguration. With the president refusing to divest from his businesses or be transparent about his finances, its unknown how much he has profited from his public position.

“No other president has retained ownership of a massive global business while serving, so this president’s self-enrichment and conflicts of interest represent a unique and unprecedented affront to the democracy,” said CREW’s executive director Noah Bookbinder.

Ninety members of Congress have made 188 visits to a Trump property, 111 foreign officials have stayed at Trump properties, and political groups have hosted 63 events at the president’s properties since Trump’s inauguration according to CREW, leading critics to be concerned not only about the president using the office to enrich himself but also the ability of special interests to buy influence by staying at the president’s hotels and resorts.

“This corrupt relationship between the Trump Organization and the White House leaves the American public in the dark about whether presidential decisions and policy are being made in the best interest of the country or in the best interest of the president’s own bottom line,” Bookbinder told Newsweek. According to CREW, the president has spent nearly a third of his presidency visiting his business properties at taxpayer expense.

The recent revelations that taxpayer funds have been used for multi-night stays by the Air Force at Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland spurred the senators to push the bill.

Other recent controversies include Attorney General William Barr spending $30,000 to book Trump hotel for an upcoming Christmas party and Vice President Mike Pence going three hours out of his way to stay at a Trump property in Scotland.

“The clear rules included in this bill would help agencies ensure that they are living up to this crucial obligation going forward, and help Congress ensure that the taxpayer dollars it appropriates are not subject to waste, fraud or abuse,” said Bookbinder

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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