Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are already being heavily investigated as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian collusion into the 2016 election. It’s no surprise that nothing is standing in their way of making a buck in the process, though.
What is both surprising and problematic is that they are taking their next endeavor to some of the poorest areas of Mississippi in an effort to create plantation-style luxury hotels. This is a big deviation from the family’s usual development of large New York high rise buildings and similar real estate projects, such as Jared Kushner’s latest troublesome Manhattan project at 666 Fifth Ave.
According to The Washington Post:
‘It is nearly unheard of for a national hotel company to debut hotel lines in one of America’s poorest corners, surrounded by cotton and soybean fields and lacking a commercial airport or even an easily accessed interstate.’
One of the towns near Cleveland, Mississippi, boasts a small population of just 12,000 people, a majority of which are poor and African-American. The Trump brothers plan to basically exploit the Mississippi Delta town in order to turn profits, and are pitching it as a place where the blues can be celebrated. According to The Post, it is:
‘A plan that some black residents view as Trump’s effort to monetize the threadbare music invented by slaves in the Mississippi cotton fields.’
According to 2015 Census data, 53.3 percent of the children there live in poverty and 59 percent of households make less than $35,000 a year. Because of the recession, factories there closed leaving many people unemployed and in dire need of work.
Although the project hasn’t been started yet, the Trumps are expected to receive both city and county tax breaks over a period of seven years until the project is accomplished. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said:
‘It shows he really doesn’t have a conscience. It’s about money.’
One local attorney, Ellis Turnage, who is representing the black residents in a voting rights lawsuit, explained that the the town is in need of huge economic development. It makes the issue complex because they will be forced to choose between politics and their financial needs. He said:
‘People are looking for something that’s going to raise Mississippi up off the bottom.’
The Mississippi town really needs the economic development, but this type of project can be construed as largely controversial. The area is definitely in need of hotels though and wants to attract tourism. The tourist industry is already capitalizing on the fact that it is the birthplace of blues music. The Grammy Museum opened in Cleveland, Mississippi, last year, securing the town a $20 million dollar economic boost it so desperately needed.
Eric and Donald Jr. are working with the Chawlas who donated $50,000 to GOP candidates at a fundraiser during the 2016 election campaign, and another $27,000 to the Trump campaign. Since then, other past fallen business deals for the brothers are being widely reported. According to Bloomberg Businessweek:
‘The Chawlas are paying the entire $20 million cost of the project; the Trump Organization will take a cut of sales once it opens.’
Dinesh Chawla told The Washington Post:
‘We are very hesitant to work with reporters at this point — everything we say, explain, do — is taken out of context. It’s frustrating that we seem to be used as pawns in a game.’
Representative Thompson said:
‘I think if the Trumps’ bottom-line profits for a hotel in the Mississippi Delta are predicated on black people coming and spending money, I think they are in serious trouble.’
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