New ho­tel chain raises more eth­i­cal ques­tions

New Straits Times - - Business -

NEW YORK: The Trump fam­ily is launch­ing a new ho­tel chain in a bold ex­pan­sion of a com­pany that crit­ics say is al­ready too big and opaque for an en­ter­prise whose owner sits in the Oval Of­fice.

The chain, called Scion, will fea­ture the first Trump-run ho­tels not to bear the fam­ily’s gilded name. The ho­tels will fea­ture modern, sleek in­te­ri­ors and com­mu­nal ar­eas, and of­fer rooms at US$200 (RM885) a night, about half what it costs at some ho­tels in Trump’s lux­ury chain.

And they’ll be dozens of them, pos­si­bly a hun­dred, open­ing across the coun­try in just three years. Or at least that’s the plan.

“It’s full steam ahead. It’s in our DNA. It’s in the Trump boys’ DNA,” said Trump Ho­tels chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Eric Danziger. The “boys” are Eric and Don­ald Jr, who are run­ning their fa­ther’s com­pany while he is pres­i­dent.

The bold ex­pan­sion plan raises some thorny eth­i­cal ques­tions.

The Trump fam­ily won’t be put­ting up any money to build the ho­tels. In­stead, their com­pany, the Trump Or­gan­i­sa­tion, plans to get lo­cal real es­tate de­vel­op­ers and their in­vestors to foot the bill.

Gov­ern­ment ethics ex­perts say turn­ing to out­side money, whether for­eign or Amer­i­can, raises the spec­tre of peo­ple try­ing to use their in­vest­ment to gain favour with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion — like con­tribut­ing to a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign, but with no dol­lar lim­its or public dis­clo­sure.

“This is the new ver­sion of payto-play, ‘Get in there and do busi­ness with the Trump Or­gan­i­sa­tion,’” said Richard Pain­ter, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer to pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

The Trump fam­ily will have to over­come some po­lit­i­cal ob­sta­cles, too. Al­ready, politi­cians in a few ci­ties men­tioned as pos­si­ble sites have vowed to fight the first fam­ily, rais­ing the prospect of a strug­gle to get zon­ing and other per­mits to start build­ing.

BLOOMBERG PIC

Don­ald Trump Jr, the son of United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, is run­ning the Trump Or­gan­i­sa­tion in his name, rais­ing thorny eth­i­cal ques­tions.

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