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Presidency for Sale: 64 Trade Groups, Companies, Candidates, Foreign Governments and Political Groups Spending Money at Trump’s Properties

By Alan Zibel

One year of Trump. One year of unprecedented conflicts of interest.

Donald Trump’s sprawling set of businesses – and his refusal to divest his financial interests in hotels, golf courses, restaurants and real estate developments around the world – has presented a unique set of conflicts that previously were unimaginable for the president of the United States.

Never before has a president owned a private club in Florida that hiked its membership fees shortly after the president took office and sold $750 tickets to a New Year’s party. Never before has the president of the United States owned an international real estate empire that’s deeply entangled with foreign governments and sold dozens of condominiums to secretive buyers. 

While some of Donald Trump’s businesses, such as his hotel in Washington, D.C. have clearly been helped by his presidency, others such as hotel ventures in New York and Toronto have been hurt by his infamy. But most alarming are the array of interest groups trying to cozy up to Trump by spending money at his properties.

Public Citizen has documented (press release here) 64 instances of trade groups, companies, religious groups, charities, foreign governments, interest groups, and political candidates staying in Trump properties or having events there. Examples range from the American Petroleum Institute to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to a conference for the vaping industry.  The visitors identified through an analysis of media stories and disclosure filings include:

  • 35 political candidates or political organizations
  • 16 trade or interest groups
  • 4 charities, including one run by Donald Trump’s son, Eric.
  • 4 foreign governments
  • 3 religious groups 
  • 2 individual companies
  • 1 college football team

Why does this matter? Trump’s investments still benefit Donald Trump. A year ago, Trump released a plan purportedly addressing conflicts of interest created by simultaneously overseeing the government and owning a business empire. Instead of fully divesting from his businesses, as called for by ethics experts, good government watchdogs, and the Office of Government Ethics, Trump promised to simply “isolate” himself from the management of the Trump Organization, putting his sons in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company, while Trump’s businesses were reshuffled into holding companies held by a trust controlled by Trump himself.

The Trump International Hotel which opened before the 2016 election, was constructed in a public building just blocks from the White House, resulting in highly unusual situation of a president deriving financial benefit from a private business used by entities with business before the U.S. government. Seventeen members of Congress, represented by Public Citizen, have sued to  challenge a decision by the U.S. General Services Administration to withhold documents relating to Trump’s lease on a federal building.

As USA Today’s opinion editors wrote in November, “lobbyists, corporations, foreign investors or anyone else looking to curry favor with Trump can go the direct route. They can join one of Trump’s luxury golf clubs where he dines, golfs and holds court on many weekends. Or purchase a condo, penthouse or mansion from the Trump Organization, or make use of the Trump International Hotel just down the street from the White House.”

Trump’s political organization has continued to spend money at Trump properties, with five Trump-affiliated groups spending nearly $750,000 at Trump properties in the first three quarters of 2017, according to a Public Citizen analysis of Federal Election Commission data.

Meanwhile, Trump’s businesses have been marketing themselves to (and profiting from) the president’s most avid fans. Those include the Trumpettes, a group of wealthy women who are ardent supporters of the president who are holding a Jan. 18 “Red, White and Blue Celebration” in honor of Trump’s first year in office.  Trump fans can chew on a waygu ribeye at Washington, D.C.’s  BLT Prime by David Burke or enjoy a $235 “energy and balancing ritual” at The Spa By Ivanka Trump — or even have a wedding at Trump’s New Jersey golf club.

Companies with major financial interests at stake with the federal government have  been big users of Trump properties. Corporate interests who have held or are planning to hold events at Trump-owned locations include  the National Mining Association , the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GEO Group, a private prison company that benefited from Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reversal of an Obama-era decision to phase out private prisons. GEO Group donated $225,000 (see here and here) to a super-PAC supporting Trump, despite a federal ban on political donations by government contractors, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center.

Meanwhile, foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Kuwait haven’t hesitated to book rooms and hold events at Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, effectively paying tribute to Trump by frequenting his properties. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Tom MacArthur  (R-N.J) and Jodey Arrington have all held fundraisers at Trump properties, and many more lawmakers have held smaller events.

NOTE: The information in this report comes from news stories as well as Federal Election Commission records for political expenditures above $100  including events, food, lodging, rent and travel expenses at Trump properties. Dates refer to event date and dates of disbursement as recorded in FEC’s database. The full spreadsheet with sources is available here.

NameDescriptionCategoryLocation(s)StateDate(s) of event/disbursementEvent/Spending DescriptionSpending
Alex Mooney for CongressGroup supporting Rep. Alex Mooney (R., WV)PoliticalTrump Hotel Blt PrimeDC6/19/2017; 7/5/2017Food/Beverage$507
American Land Title AssociationTrade group for title industryTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump National DoralFL10/10/2017-10/13/2017ALTA-Onen/a
American Legislative Exchange CouncilConnservative group focused on state legislaturesTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC9/26/2018ALEC 45th Anniversary Galan/a
American Petroleum InstituteOil industry trade groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC3/23/2017Board Meeting (meetings with Pruitt and Zinke)n/a
American Turkish Council/Turkey-U.S. Business CouncilGroups promoting business between U.S. and TurkeyForeign GovernmentTrump International HotelDC5/21-201736th Annual Conference on U.S.-Turkey Relationsn/a
Big Dog Ranch RescueAnimal welfare groupCharityMar-a-Lago ClubFL3/10/2018Wine Women & Shoes benefiting Big Dog Ranch Rescue ( Lara Trump is co-chair of event)n/a
Bill Shuster For CongressGroup supporing Rep. Bill Shuster (R.-Pa)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC4/7/2017Facility rental$6,038
Billy Graham Evangelistic AssociationChristian group started by Billy Graham in 1950Religious GroupTrump International HotelDC5/12/2017World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christiansn/a
Bob Corker For Senate 2018 IncGroup supporting Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.) Trump supporter turned criticPoliticalTrump International HotelDC1/3/2017Lodging$1,052
Citizens For TurnerGroup supporting Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC8/15/2017/; 9/15/2017Meeting- Food and Beverage$329
Community Financial Services AssociationPayday lender trade groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump National DoralFL4/16-4/19/2018Annual conferencen/a
Crawford For CongressGroup supporting Rep. Rick Crawford (R.-Ark)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC2/6/2017Lodging$1,560
Culberson For CongressGroup supporting Rep. John Culberson (R.-Texas)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC6/9/2017Event food and beverage$701
CuretivityCharity formerly known as Eric Trump FoundationCharityTrump National Golf ClubNY9/18/2017Fundraisern/a
Denham For CongressGroup supporting Rep. Jeff Denham (R.-Calif.)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC9/13/2017Fundraiser$874
Duffy For WisconsinGroup supporting Rep. Sean Duffy (R.-Wis)PoliticalTrump Hotel Blt PrimeDC3/20/2017Food/beverage$492
Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaSaudi governmentForeign GovernmentTrump International HotelDCUnknownUnknown$270,000
GEO GroupPrivate prison company with close ties to Trump administrationCompanyTrump National DoralFL10/2017Annual leadership conferencen/a
Government of MalaysiaMalaysian governmentForeign GovernmentTrump International HotelDC9/12/2017Prime Minister Najib Razak visit to DCn/a
Handel For Congress Inc.Group supporting Rep. Karen Handel (R.-Ga.) won 6/20/17 special electionPoliticalTrump International HotelDC7/7/2017Food/bevarage$230
Industrial Truck AssociationTrade group for makers of forklifts and other industrial equipmentTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC6/12/2017National Forklift Safety Dayn/a
John Kennedy for U.S.Group supporting Sen. John Kennedy (R., La)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC8/31/2017Lodging$1,850
Kansans For MarshallGroup supporting Rep. Roger Marshall (R.-Kan.)PoliticalTrump International HotelIL5/17/2017Travel$397
Keep America Rolling PACPAC associated with Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC1/24/2017Event expense$1,204
Kevin McCarthy For CongressGroup supporting House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyPoliticalTrump International HotelDC1/13/2017Lodging$230
Kuwait EmbassyKuwaiti governmentForeign GovernmentTrump International HotelDC2/22/2017Kuwait National Dayn/a
Log Cabin RepublicansLGBT conservative groupPoliticalTrump International HotelDC9/23/201740th Anniversary Celebrationn/a
Louisiana Association of Business and IndustryState business groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC9/12/-9/13/2017Federal outreach tourn/a
Macarthur VictoryGroup suporting Rep. Tom Macarthur (R., N.J);Raised more than $800,000 for MacArthur and GOPPoliticalTrump National Golf ClubNJ6/28/2017Venue Rental/Catering$15,221
Manusec SummittCybersecurity eventTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International Hotel and Tower - ChicagoIL10/9-10/10/2018Conferencen/a
Metals Service Center InstituteMetals industry trade associationTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump National DoralFL5/7/2017-5/8/2017Annual Meetingn/a
Mike Kelly For CongressGroup supporting Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC6/26/2017Food and beverages$203
Museum of the BibleBiblical history museum created by Hobby Lobby president Steve GreenReligious GroupTrump International HotelDC11/16/2017Dedication Galan/a
National Confectioners AssociationCandy industry trade groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump National Doral, Trump International HotelFL, DC3/2017, 9/2017, 9/2018Multiple Eventsn/a
National Funeral Directors AssociationFuneral home trade groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC4/27/2017Dinner & Keynote Address with Newt Gingrichn/a
National Mining AssociationCoal and mineral mining trade groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC10/4/2017Board Meetingn/a
National Railroad Construction and Maintenance AssociationTrade group for railroad and rail transit construction industryTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC3/1/2017Dinnern/a
National Republican Congressional CommitteePolitical group supporting House RepublicansPoliticalTrump International HotelDC4/5/2017Travel$701
National Republican Senatorial CommitteePolitical group supporting Senate RepublicansPoliticalTrump RestaurantsNY8/4/2017Food/Beverage$404
Omar Navarro For CongressChallenger to Rep. Maxine Waters (D. Calif)PoliticalTrump National Golf Course Los Angeles; Trump Internatonal Hotel Las VegasCA/NV7/2017, 9/2017Event rental/hotel$8,452
Orphan’s PromiseChildren's ministry of televangelist Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting NetworkReligious GroupMar-a-Lago ClubFL2/17/20181st Annual Dream Galan/a
Oxbow Carbon LLCPetroleum coke company founded by billionaire Bill Koch, a Trump supporterCompanyMar-a-Lago ClubFL12/9/2017Holiday Partyn/a
PenFed FoundationVeterans organizationCharityTrump International HotelDC5/4/2017Night of Heroesn/a
Pete King For Congress CommitteeGroup supporting Rep. Peter King (R.-NY)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC1/23/2017Meal$118
Republican Attorneys General AssociationGroup of Republican Attorneys GeneralPoliticalMar-a-Lago ClubFL11/10/2017Reception Dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club teahousen/a
Republican Governors AssociationGroup of Republican GovernorsPoliticalTrump National DoralFL5/16/2017Corporate Policy Summitn/a
Republican National CommitteeNational Republican PartyPoliticalTrump International Hotel-DC/Trump Cafe NYDC2/2017-10/2017Venue rental, catering, food, travel$177,104
Republican Party of Palm Beach CountyPalm Beach Republican organizaitonPoliticalMar-a-Lago ClubFL3/16/2018Palm Beach County GOP Lincoln Day Dinnern/a
Rohrabacher For CongressGroup supporting Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC5/31/2017-7/6/2017Event, room and catering$12,545
Sheriff David Clarke For U.S. Senate (Official Draft Campaign)Effort to draft Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to run for Senate. Called a "scam" by Clarke PoliticalTrump International HotelDC3/1/2017Meals, lodging$3,009
Ted Yoho For CongressGroup supporting Rep. Ted Yoho (R.-Calif)PoliticalBlt-Trump International HotelDC6/14/2017Event Catering$1,259
Texans For Jodey ArringtonGroup supporting Rep. Jodey Arrington (R.-Texas)PoliticalTrump International HotelDC1/2/2017Facility use, food and beverage$9,678
The Fund for American StudiesSponsors educational programs teaching "principles of limited government, free-market economics and honorable leadership"Trade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC9/28/2017Defending Freedom Luncheon (featuring Neil Gorsuch)n/a
Tom Rooney For CongressGroup supporting Rep. Tom Rooney (R., Fla.)PoliticalTrump International HotelIL9/1/2017Lodging$352
Trumpettes USAWomen's pro-Trump groupPoliticalMar-a-Lago ClubFL1/18/2018Red, White & Blue Celebrationn/a
Truth About Israel GalaRemembrance of the 45th Anniversary of the 1972 Olympics killings Munich.Trade Group/Interest GroupMar-a-Lago ClubFL2/25/2018Truth About Israel Galan/a
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100Chamber of Commerce executives from around U.S.Trade Group/Interest GroupTrump National DoralFL3/6-3/8/2018Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100n/a
University of WisconsinFootball teamState GovernmentTrump National DoralFL12/23-12/30/2017Lodging$100,000
Valadao For CongressGroup supporting Rep. David Valadao (R.-Calif)PoliticalBlt Trump InternationalDC3/9/2017Fundraiser$1,744
Vapor Technology AssociationVaping industry trade groupTrade Group/Interest GroupTrump International HotelDC7/18/2017Vape & the FDA Conferencen/a
Washington State Republican PartyState Republican PartyPoliticalTrump International HotelDC6/17/2017; 7/14/2017Hotel$1,712
Yoder For Congress, IncGroup supporting Rep. Kevin Yoder (R.-Kan)PoliticalTrump HotelIL8/30/2017Lodging$354
Young AdventurersYouth Mentoring ProgramCharityMar-a-Lago ClubFL1/26/2018Safari Night Balln/a
Young Republican National FederationOrganization for Republicans ages 18-40PoliticalMar-a-Lago ClubFL11/12/2017Event featuring Roger Stone, Joy Villan/a