UW students protest Badgers controversial stay at Trump hotel
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.”
‘PRESIDENCY FOR SALE’
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 ‘CORRUPTING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST’
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.”