Much has been written about the flagrant conflicts of interest inherent in Donald Trump’s presidency. He is a walking violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. The purpose of that clause is to prohibit the president from receiving cash or gifts from foreign persons or governments. Nevertheless, Trump stubbornly refuses to divest himself from his far flung business empire. Already there is evidence of foreign interests deliberately booking his hotels and resorts in order to curry favor with him. Even worse, some reports indicate that the Trump Organization is applying political pressure to do so.
In addition to the windfall from big-spending foreigners, Trump is also profiting from domestic business transactions since becoming president. ThinkProgress reports that it costs taxpayers $3 million dollars each time Trump visits his luxury Miami resort, Mar-A-Lago. And that’s not all:
“In order to have constant access to the commander-in-chief, the military is forced to rent space in Trump Tower at a taxpayer cost estimated to be $1.5 million annually, with the money lining the Trump family’s pockets. Relocating the executive branch to Mar-a-Lago each weekend raises the profile of the club and encourages people to pay for the access a $200,000 membership provides.”
Additional security expenses are incurred by the First Lady, Melania, spending virtually all of her time at Trump Tower. The Secret Service has taken up residence in the floor below Trump’s penthouse, for which the American people are paying. These and other expenses, including those incurred by the Trump kids, put money directly into the family’s bank account.
Seeking to address this lucrative scam, an Oregon congressman has come up with a brilliant solution. It’s a creative piece of legislation that would put an end to the Trump clan’s profiteering. USA Today provides the details:
“The ‘No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency’ Act, otherwise known as the ‘No TRUMP’ Act. The bill, introduced Thursday by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for events, overnight stays, food or other expenses at hotels owned or operated by a president or his relatives.”
Blumenauer’s acronym is work of comic genius. However, the bill itself makes sense and would apply to any president. There are good reasons to deny presidents the ability to use the office for personal gain. By introducing a profit motive it becomes impossible to tell whether the president is acting in the best interests of the nation or himself. And that’s especially true with a notorious con artist like Trump.
Republicans spent a good deal of time complaining about how often President Obama played golf or took vacations. Never mind that it was less than most of his predecessors. And Trump has already spent almost as much in a month as Obama did in a year. Trump himself whined about the cost of Obama’s use of Air Force One:
The absurdity of that is apparent. The President must travel in a secure environment and prepared to deal with any potential crisis. But the No TRUMP Act doesn’t stop The Donald from traveling or fulfilling his duties. He can simply choose to stay at a hotel that he doesn’t own. And any money that he receives from government use of his properties should be transferred to the U.S. Treasury. He has said he will do that for money received from foreigners, but there has been no proof yet that he is doing so. The No TRUMP Act would make a legal requirement.