President-elect Donald Trump is already making money on his status as the future U.S. president, even this close to his inauguration. His Florida Mar-A-Lago Resort just brought in $420,000 for New Years Eve, boasting a big party with the president-elect in attendance.
Trump has consistently been having a problem recognizing his conflict of interest issues. He doesn’t seem to understand his constitutional obligation to set aside his business endeavors so that there will be no hint of favoritism when he enters office on Jan. 20.
Although many resorts and country clubs offer an annual New Year’s Eve party for a flat ticket price, none other than Mar-A-Lago can boast a direct audience with the future leader of the free world. Trump has attended these parties in the past, but this year is different.
The event, according POLITICO, drew 800 guests, with ticket prices going for $525-$575 per person. That’s a minimum of $420,000 the club earned in ticket prices for one night.
According to Trump’s transition team, and incoming White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, there is no “conflict of interest.”
‘The transition is not concerned about the appearance of a conflict. This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election. Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict.’
Of course they aren’t concerned about it — why should they start now after ignoring the problem for five months? But, with the sheer volume of conflict of interest issues that haunt Donald Trump, the fat door take for the party a Mar-A-Lago simply drives home the perception that the president-elect can’t separate his business from his public office obligations.
Pledges that Donald Trump will keep arm’s length from his real estate and branding business by handing them over to his adult children are not going over well with the opposition. Nor should they. Even Trump’s campaign was fraught with questionable financial issues, with his campaign purchasing goods and services from Trump organizations and funneling money into his business for entertaining and travel costs.
Ethics experts have been weighing in since Trump became the Republican presidential candidate. According to The Washington Post, Walter Shaub Jr., Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics sent a letter to Sen. Thomas Carper regarding the president-elect and his plan to hand his business operations to his children:
‘Transferring operational control of a company to one’s children would not constitute the establishment of a qualified blind trust, nor would it eliminate conflicts of interest under 18 U.S.C. § 208 if applicable.’
Trump’s new Washington D. C. hotel has also been a hotly contested issue. The property is leased from the U.S. government, and the lease clearly states that the property cannot be rented by those in public service or government employees. Rumors have also circulated that foreign dignitaries will be staying at his hotel in order to receive favors.
There are also concerns about Trump making money from his right to Secret Service protection. Since his wife, Melania Trump, refuses to move to the White House upon her husband’s inauguration, the U.S. government will be required to rent spaces in Trump Tower in order to provide security and offices for aides.
One of Trump’s own contractors for the Mar-A-Lago New Years event said it perfectly when talking to The Palm Beach Post:
‘This year feels a little different with [Trump’s] new position.’
It is different, and should have been handled differently.
Watch the video below from NPR for a detailed look at Trump’s conflict of interest problems.
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