UW stu­dents protest Badgers con­tro­ver­sial stay at Trump ho­tel

Wisconsin Gazette - - News - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

Over 64 trade groups, com­pa­nies, re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, char­i­ties, and po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates spent money this past year at Trump prop­er­ties.

The list in­cludes two en­ti­ties from Wis­con­sin — a group sup­port­ing Con­gress­man Sean Duffy and the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin foot­ball team.

Duffy for Wis­con­sin spent $492 on food and bev­er­age at a Trump ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ac­cord­ing to watch­dog group Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen.

The Badgers stayed at the Trump Na­tional Do­ral Mi­ami Dec. 23–30, 2017, at an es­ti­mated cost of $100,000.

The team was in Florida for the Orange Bowl and Wis­con­sin ac­com­mo­da­tions at the Trump re­sort were for about 250 peo­ple, in­clud­ing play­ers, staff in the ath­letic depart­ment, univer­sity of­fi­cials and the UW Board of Re­gents.

The Orange Bowl Com­mit­tee se­lected the re­sort in 2014, be­fore Trump ran for pres­i­dent, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Univer­sity spokesman John Lu­cas told the Post the ex­penses would be “paid by the school in Fe­bru­ary us­ing rev­enue from bowl pro­ceeds, ticket sales, con­ces­sions and other sources.” Tax-gen­er­ated funds would not be used, he said.

How­ever, Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen and oth­ers con­cerned about Trump’s busi­ness deal­ings say the pay­ments from state-con­trolled en­ti­ties would be con­sid­ered emol­u­ments.

Be­fore the bowl game, the team’s stay drew protest from a group of UW stu­dents called the Stu­dent Coali­tion for Progress. They is­sued a state­ment that read in part, “There are hun­dreds of ho­tels in the Mi­ami area and the Wis­con­sin foot­ball team and its sup­port­ers should be stay­ing in a dif­fer­ent one.”


Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen’s “Pres­i­dency for Sale” analysis says other en­ti­ties spend­ing money at Trump ho­tels, golf cour­ses, restau­rants and real es­tate de­vel­op­ments around the world in­clude:

• 35 po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates or po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions.

• 16 trade or in­ter­est groups.

• Four char­i­ties, in­clud­ing one run by Eric Trump.

• Four for­eign gov­ern­ments.

• Three re­li­gious groups.

• Two in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies.

Cor­po­rate in­ter­ests that have held or are plan­ning to hold events at Trumpowned lo­ca­tions in­clude the Na­tional Min­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce — and GEO Group, a pri­vate pri­son com­pany that ben­e­fited from U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Sessions’ re­ver­sal of an Obama-era de­ci­sion to phase out pri­vate pris­ons. It held its an­nual lead­er­ship con­fer­ence at the Trump Na­tional Do­ral Golf Club in Florida.

GEO Group do­nated $225,000 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.

For­eign gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia, Malaysia and Kuwait have booked rooms and held events at Trump’s D.C. ho­tel.


Trump’s po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion also has spent sub­stan­tial sums at Trump prop­er­ties, with five Trump-af­fil­i­ated groups spend­ing nearly $750,000 at Trump prop­er­ties in the first three quar­ters of 2017, ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen analysis of FEC data.

“Don­ald Trump en­tered of­fice with the most bla­tant and po­ten­tially cor­rupt­ing con­flicts of in­ter­est in the his­tory of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, and things only got worse from there,” said Robert Weiss­man, Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen’s pres­i­dent. “Busi­ness is boom­ing at the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in D.C., not be­cause of the dé­cor, but be­cause cor­po­ra­tions and for­eign gov­ern­ments want to curry fa­vor with the pres­i­dent.”

Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen based the re­port on news sto­ries, as well as Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion records for po­lit­i­cal ex­pen­di­tures above $100, which in­cluded events, food, lodg­ing, rent and travel ex­penses at Trump prop­er­ties.

“Don­ald Trump is a man who is eas­ily flat­tered,” said Alan Zi­bel, the re­port’s au­thor and re­search di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen’s Cor­po­rate Pres­i­dency Project. “Cor­po­ra­tions and for­eign gov­ern­ments know the best way to get on his good side is to open up their wal­lets at one of Trump’s many busi­nesses.”

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