search
Sections List
American Journal News

Trump's DC hotel profits off Republican fundraisers days before impeachment

Advertised rates for a standard room at the Trump International Hotel surged to as high as $6,719 a night.

By Associated Press - December 21, 2019
Share
Donald Trump at his DC hotel

Donald Trump took the stage in the ballroom of his luxury hotel in Washington on Saturday night, just days before an impeachment vote, to rail against his political rivals as a crowd of high-dollar Republican donors and party activists cheered.

In the weeks leading up to the invitation-only event, advertised rates for a standard room at the Trump International Hotel surged to as high as $6,719 — more than a dozen times the posted price for rooms on other weekends.

Even at the sky-high prices, the website for Trump’s hotel indicated last week that all 263 guest rooms and suites were booked.

Ethics watchdogs have long pointed to Trump’s landmark D.C. hotel, housed in a leased federal building just down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, as emblematic of how Trump mixes his elected office with his family’s business interests.

The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment this week about whether hotel managers hiked room rates to profit from Trump’s appearance. Trump says he turned management of his business interests over to his two adult sons after he won election in 2016, but he has retained ownership of the company and rebuffed calls to place his assets in a blind trust, as past presidents have.

Last weekend’s winter retreat for Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection campaign and Republican National Committee, attracted more than 600 attendees from across the country.

In addition to Trump’s speech, guests were treated to a luncheon with Vice President Mike Pence and remarks from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Attendees were also offered tickets for holiday tours of the White House and provided a copy of Donald Trump Jr.’s recently released book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” The book by Trump’s eldest son briefly occupied the coveted top spot on the New York Times Bestseller List last month, propelled in part by bulk purchases. RNC spokesman Steve Guest told AP last month it had been offering the book as a fundraising incentive, a common practice for political books.

Both the White House and the RNC said Saturday’s event was a fundraiser, though the RNC declined to say how much money was raised. Several donors who were in attendance said it was primarily a celebration for those who had already given major sums.

“If you’re a major donor to the party and the RNC’s Trump Victory campaign fund, then you get invited,” said Doug Deason, a Texas businessman and GOP donor, who along with his father, Darwin, has spent at least $2.2 million supporting Trump.

Since Trump’s 2016 win, committees tied to his reelection campaign have spent a minimum of $4 million at his hotels and restaurants on lodging, meals, events, catering and other expenses, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

His Washington hotel has taken in the most, reaping a minimum of $1.7 million during that period. While the events last weekend have not been reported to the FEC yet, over $320,000 has been spent by those committees at the property so far this year, the analysis shows.

The totals include spending by the RNC and other entities officially connected to his reelection effort, as well as spending by America First Action, the Trump’s campaign’s sanctioned super PAC.

Virginia Canter, a lawyer for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said there appears to be little separation between Trump’s political machine and his business empire.

“The Trump presidency and campaign have served almost as another arm of the Trump Organization,” said Canter, the chief ethics counsel for CREW. “When Trump’s D.C. hotel fills up for political events, Trump is benefitting twice — money is going to both support his reelection and support his bottom line.”

While some rooms at the hotel were advertised at more than $6,000 in the lead-up to the Trump Victory retreat, Deason said a block of rooms set aside for some attendees were available at preferable rates.

“It was pretty well sold out. As long as they made the block, it was as low as $375 a night,” said Deason. Still he acknowledged that the hotel has charged high rates in the past, including during Trump’s inauguration.

“The hotel got a premium then,” he said.

Alabama donor William McFarland said he didn’t hear anyone complaining about the cost of rooms.

“In order to be invited you have to be obviously a major donor to the RNC. But there was no hard sell — it’s just an annual dinner they have,” said McFarland.

That said, he found a cheaper place to stay elsewhere.

“If I was going to pay that kind of money for any hotel room, I’d rather just give it to the RNC,” McFarland said.

An RNC official declined to comment specifically on the cost of rooms at the Trump Hotel, how much money was raised through the weekend’s events or to give details on any perks offered to donors.

The official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal campaign matters, said many donors prefer to stay at the Trump Hotel. But the person added that other factors like security and convenience were part of the decision to hold the event at Trump’s Washington hotel.

Those attending the Trump Victory retreat said they were discouraged from posting about it on social media and those at the Saturday night gala had their phones locked in individual bags by security personnel to prevent them from taking photos or making recordings.

An Associated Press reporter saw tight security for the event, with a long line of police cars and vans parked in front of the hotel along Pennsylvania Avenue. Uniformed Secret Service officers guarded the approaches to the ballroom where Trump was speaking, with only the sharply dressed GOP donors wearing special credentials dangling from neck lanyards allowed to pass.

Inside the gilded ballroom, the well-heeled guests sipped Trump-branded wines and were feted with a main course of pan-seared sea scallops and filet mignon, according to a menu reviewed by AP.

Bridget Melson, a Texas psychologist who attended the gala, said she didn’t see anything wrong with Trump’s reelection effort hosting an event at his family’s business.

“I would definitely want to have a dinner at my hotel, if I had one,” she said. “It just makes sense.”


AJ News
Get the latest news here first.

Tai News

Newsletter
Read More
Biden rallies Democrats in Las Vegas: ‘Imagine the nightmare’ if Trump reelected

Biden rallies Democrats in Las Vegas: ‘Imagine the nightmare’ if Trump reelected

By April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current - February 05, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
White House calls for focus on tutoring, summer school, absenteeism as pandemic aid winds down

White House calls for focus on tutoring, summer school, absenteeism as pandemic aid winds down

By Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat and Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado - January 22, 2024
Trump legal problems abound as first test of 2024 presidential campaign nears in Iowa

Trump legal problems abound as first test of 2024 presidential campaign nears in Iowa

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom and Jacob Fischler, Georgia Recorder - January 08, 2024
December jobs report: Wages up, hiring steady as job market ends year strong

December jobs report: Wages up, hiring steady as job market ends year strong

By Casey Quinlan - January 05, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Republican Bernie Moreno opposes existence of minimum wage

Republican Bernie Moreno opposes existence of minimum wage

By Jesse Valentine - February 23, 2024
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

By Jesse Valentine - February 22, 2024
More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

By Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal - February 22, 2024
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024