Instead of draining the swamp, Trump's making money off it.
Dozens of Republicans in Congress have spent political funds at Trump's properties, thereby personally enriching him, according to a new report released Monday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
CREW documented the spending and visits by Republicans over the last two years, and found hundreds of visits to Trump properties by various party and government officials, governors, and members of Congress.
"Throughout his two and a half years as president, 90 members of Congress have made 188 visits to a Trump property," the report notes.
Further, political committees linked to 101 Republican members of Congress have spent money at a Trump property. Implicated in these ethically dubious transactions are notable figures like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Tom Cotton (R-AR), among many others.
Instead of fulfilling their constitutional obligation to provide oversight of Trump and his administration, those Republicans are spending money that goes directly into Trump's pocket — an ethically questionable practice for all involved.
The practice of visiting and spending money at Trump properties extends to state lawmakers as well.
"Forty-seven state officials, including 20 Republican governors, have made 64 visits to Trump properties," the report states. "Sometimes resulting in state taxpayer funds being spent there."
The Republican National Committee and Trump's reelection campaign have also heavily leaned on Trump properties.
"Political groups have spent $5.9 million at Trump properties since President Trump took office. So far this year, political groups have spent $1.1 million at Trump properties," CREW's report states. That wasn't the case in the many years before Trump took office, as CREW found that "his businesses were never paid more than $100,000 by political groups in any single year, going back at least as far as 2002."
CREW also calculated that Trump has made 362 visits to his properties since taking office (giving them millions in free national exposure) and that there have been 63 political events held at those venues. Special interest groups have held 82 events at his properties, and 111 foreign officials have visited his properties.
"Instead of limiting Washington corruption, President Trump has pushed it into uncharted territory, innovating forms of corruption," CREW notes.
The report documents at least 2,310 conflicts of interest that Trump has been involved in during his time in office, stemming from his decision to combine the presidency with his private businesses.
Because he chose not to divest from his private holdings, as presidents of either party usually do, Trump is continuing to personally profit from the money spent at his properties. That business arrangement has created a huge incentive for corporations, foreign governments, and individuals to spend money at his properties to try to influence Trump.
Instead of draining the swamp, as Trump repeatedly promised to do during his campaign, he has found a way to profit from it thanks to interest groups and individuals looking to curry favor with him.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.