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