Wednesday, June 27, 2018

If you've been wondering

Trump Doonbeg from the air.
First information on something I've been wondering about for a long time, but nowhere near the end of the story.

ProPublica has tried to get a fix on how much money Emperor Trump has pocketed from the use of his hotels, golf courses, and restaurants by his own campaign, the Republican Party, and federal and state governments since he declared his candidacy: at least $16.1 million.

For instance, in April 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and two aides stayed at Mar-a-Lago during the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping, and the state department shelled $546 per night for each of them, since the stay was "to meet with POTUS for a high level meeting." I love that: my president went to Florida and all I got was this lousy meeting. In March 2017, the Secret Service spent $27,724.32 at the golf course at Doonbeg, Ireland, "to support E. Trump Visit" the following month, when Eric Trump was there for a couple of days of business meetings. The State Department spent a total of $24,298.30 at Doonbeg at some points in time, but ProPublica wasn't able to find out when.
The vast majority of the money — at least $13.5 million, or more than 84 percent of what we tracked — was spent by Trump’s presidential campaign (including on Tag Air, the entity that operates Trump’s personal airplane). Republican Senate and House political committees and campaigns have shelled out at least another $2.1 million at Trump properties. At least $400,000 has been spent by federal, state and local agencies. (For example, the Florida Police Chiefs Association held its summer conference last year at the Trump National Doral Miami.) The state and local tally appears to be a gross undercount because of the agencies’ spotty disclosures and reporting.
A worker in the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado who went to Washington for training in April 2017 was reimbursed $2,740 for five days at the Trump International, including room service and valet parking, since he rented a car even though he said he was staying there to be within walking distance of his conference so he wouldn't have to rent one.
When asked about cheaper nearby hotels and the parking costs, Snyder wrote in an email: “I could offer clarity, but I choose not to.”
That's an intriguing statement. The judge in the lawsuit conducted by the District of Columbia and Maryland against Trump's violations of the domestic emoluments clause (Article II, section 1, clause 7), Peter Messtite, has suggested that the parties "may very well" feel they're being shaken down to benefit the Trump properties. The data on the taxpayer dollars finding their way to Trump's pockets is incomplete because the 15 agencies they're investigating "are fighting disclosure," ProPublica says, but they're still working, so stay tuned.

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