GOP lawmakers with lease oversight directed $110,000 in contributions to Trump Hotel D.C.

Five out of six Republicans on a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Trump Hotel D.C.’s lease have spent campaign funds at that business

Five of the six Republican members on a House subcommittee with oversight of the Trump Hotel D.C. lease have combined to direct more than $110,000 in political contributions to the president’s business, per a new 1100 Pennsylvania analysis.

President Donald J. Trump still owns his hotel and can profit from it.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management conducts oversight of public buildings, and the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration (GSA). According to the subcommittee’s website, this charge includes jurisdiction over D.C.’s Old Post Office Building, which the government leases to the Trump Organization and serves as the Trump Hotel D.C.

As 1100 Pennsylvania has reported previously, via at least seven letters, two open hearings, and one subpoena, the Democratic chair of the committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and the subcommittee Dina Titus (D-NV) have requested data regarding the Trump Hotel D.C.’s financial performance, correspondence between GSA and the Trump Organization, information about the lease’s sale, and documents that supported GSA’s conclusion that the lease wasn’t violated upon Donald Trump’s inauguration. A spokesperson for the committee said GSA’s most recent reply, which was due Feb. 21 and arrived late, “failed to provide any substantive information on how GSA will vet potential buyers of the Trump Hotel lease.”

Yet campaigns and committees affiliated with five of the six Republicans on the committee have combined to spend at least $110,818.16 at the Trump Hotel D.C. per their filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) is the sole GOP subcommittee member who has not reported spending funds at the Trump Hotel D.C. Palmer hasn’t been seen there either. Meanwhile, Titus became one of the few elected Democrats spotted at the hotel when she stood behind the Trump Hotels lectern in May 2018 to accept an award from a pro-Cyprus group (Titus’s appearance may have cost the Trump Organization money in the long run though).

Here’s a rundown of how these five subcommittee members have helped the U.S. president profit.

Ranking member Rep. Mark Meadows’s (R-NC) campaign has reported spending $15,228.99 at the Trump Hotel D.C. since its owner was elected president. His affiliated PAC, House Freedom Fund, has disbursed $1,460.00 there. Meadows defended Trump’s ownership of the hotel during one of this subcommittee’s hearings. He also criticized a GSA inspector general’s report that questioned the agency’s handling of the hotel’s lease, let Capital One know he was concerned about his colleagues’ request for Trump Organization financial documents, and has been seen at the hotel on several occasions, including when he addressed the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s 2019 gathering of its top donors.

Puerto Rico’s non-voting congressional delegate Jenniffer González-Colón’s (R) campaign has reported spending $2,175.78 at the Trump Hotel D.C. Her campaign had not reported any disbursements at the president’s D.C. hotel until the month she filed a bill to make Puerto Rico the 51st state (a $372.40 charge, in fact, occurred on the same day González-Colón’s presented her legislation).

Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-WV) campaign has spent $1,609.40 at the Trump Hotel D.C. Prior to her election, Miller held a fundraiser with two other candidates at the Trump Hotel D.C. that President Trump headlined. The candidates joint fundraising committee spent $39,951.50 at the property.

Rep. Greg Pence’s (R-IN) campaign has spent $45,348.96 at the Trump Hotel D.C. His joint fundraising committee has disbursed an additional $1,027.50 at the D.C. hotel his younger brother’s boss owns. In June 2019, Maureen Groppe reported for USA Today that Pence “reported spending more than $7,600 in campaign funds on lodging at the Trump International Hotel in the first few months after his election in November, although lawmakers are supposed to pay for their own housing in Washington…Hours after USA Today pressed for more detail on the nature of the lodging expenses, the campaign filed an amended FEC report that changed the designation of the expenses to ‘fundraising event costs.’”

Pence also posed at the hotel with Robert Hyde, a figure in the impeachment inquiry, and the organizers of the hotel’s monthly happy hour for lobbyists. Pence led the Republican’s defense of the president’s business in one of this subcommittee’s public hearings on the hotel lease.

Rep. Sam Graves’s (R-MO) campaign has spent $3,942.83 at the Trump Hotel D.C. The Show-Me PAC with which he’s affiliated has spent another $73.80 there.


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Recently your correspondent appeared again on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” to share 1100 Pennsylvania’s reporting on the Trump Hotel D.C. Additionally, 1100 Pennsylvania’s reporting recently was cited by The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Capital (French), The Daily Beast, The Daily Mail, The Hartford Courant, Inside Edition, NBC News, The New York Times, The Palm Beach Post, Stern (German), The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, and Yahoo News.

Thanks to 1100 Pennsylvania’s paid subscribers who support in-depth reporting on who’s paying Donald Trump and what they may want from the president, helping bring this information to a much wider audience. Paid subscriptions are this publication’s sole source of revenue—no ads, no grants. Support this reporting and ensure it continues. Just $5 a month or $50 a year.


Other notable sightings

A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.

White House adviser Ivanka Trump visited the hotel of which she owns 7.425 percent. Ivanka—who’s on a leave of absence from the Trump Organization but has reported more than $7.8 million in revenue from the hotel during her government gig—was there to attend loyal customer Charlie Kirk’s book party. The day before the event, President Trump—who owns 76.725 percent of the hotel and can profit from Kirk’s book party—plugged the Turning Point USA founder’s opus on Twitter. (Due to a formatting constraint, please select the link to watch the video.)

White House senior adviser and husband of a hotel co-owner, Jared Kushner, also addressed Kirk’s fans.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) bravely risked coronavirus and ventured out to pose with Kirk and Ivanka in front of the Trump Hotels logo at the president’s business.

Conservative thought leader Jacob Wohl plugged a GOP candidate for Congress in Florida, Laura Loomer, with a photo of the two of them at the Trump Hotel D.C.


Other Trump Organization news

  • “Washington Mystics owner Sheila Johnson pursuing Trump hotel lease” by Jonathan O’Connell for The Washington Post

  • On March 2, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel and Subcommittee on Oversight Chair Joaquin Castro (D-TX) sent a letter to the State Department seeking info on its spending at Trump properties. It’s a followup to a letter Engel sent almost eight months ago that received a response he deemed unsatisfactory.

  • Taxpayers are likely on the hook for Eric Trump’s trip to his dad’s European resorts” by Russ Choma for Mother Jones


Reference section

Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.

Trackers

Notable hotel customers

Summaries

  • 25 unimpeachable examples of Trump profiting from his hotel: Foreign governments, Trump administration, GOP lawmakers, industry all have called on the Trump Hotel D.C. since its owner became president (Sept. 27, 2019)

  • Power tripping in the swamp: How Trump’s D.C. hotel swallowed Washington
    The MAGA social scene is a movable feast, but its dark heart resides within the Old Post Office Building, where the Trump Org operates under a mercenary charter” by your correspondent for Vanity Fair (October 2019)

  • Inside the world’s most controversial hotel: The hotel that was expected to take its place among the crown jewels of D.C.’s travel scene has become a magnet for protestors, a West Wing Annex, and—possibly—the center of a constitutional crisis.” by your correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler (May 2018)

Upcoming key dates

  • Sept. 23, 2019—House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)

  • Jan. 23, 2020—Trump Organization’s deadline to bid for the lease rights to its D.C. hotel.

  • March 5, 2020—Hearing before District Court in House Ways and Means’s lawsuit against the Treasury Department and President Trump seeking his federal tax returns.

  • March 20, 2020—Status hearing before D.C. Superior Court in former hotel employees’ lawsuit alleging racial discrimination

  • March 31, 2020—Supreme Court hears Trump’s appeal of earlier rulings requiring his financial institutions to comply with subpoenas from House Financial Services, Intelligence, and Oversight Committees and the New York district attorney’s office

  • April 6, 2020—Deadline for parties to exchange witness lists in lawsuit alleging a shard of glass from a sabered bottle of champagne left a gash in a customer’s chin

  • June 2020—Supreme Court decision due on Trump’s appeal of earlier rulings requiring his financial institutions to comply with subpoenas from House Financial Services, Intelligence, and Oversight


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