Amid calls for President Donald Trump to divest himself from his business empire to avoid ethical conflicts, Trump has decided to do the exact opposite. It has been announced Trump’s hotel company is planning a massive expansion of properties around the United States.
The announcement came from Eric Danziger, the Chief Executive Officer of Trump Hotels, during the Americas Lodging Investment Summit which was hosted in Los Angeles. Danziger said, “There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we’re in five. I don’t see any reason that we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Trump Hotels has signed 17 letters of intent with potential owners for its new Scion hotel brand, the Trump Organization’s first line of hotels that don’t bear the president’s name.”
Ethics watchdogs are crying foul at the planned expansion saying that Trump’s presidency will influence individuals to visit his various properties. A professor of ethics at San Diego State University laid out why Trump’s position is so dubious:
Although he is now officially the leader of the free world, Donald Trump remains both a businessman and a brand. The fact that the hotel chain that bears his name is seeking to expand within the United States raises questions of both law and ethics.
The law in which Trump may be violating with company’s planned expansion is the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution bans members of the government from receiving gifts from foreign governments unless those gifts are expressly granted permission from the United States Congress. Individuals of foreign nations may, in an attempt to seek favor, intentionally spend money at Trump’s various properties. In fact, back in November, an Asian diplomat told the Washington Post, “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel…so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’”
Trump’s team has no qualms about the expansion or the public’s perception of impropriety. The White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, said, “By law, he can’t have conflicts.” This was a point originally raised by Trump shortly after he won the presidential election in November when he said, “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” There seems to be no limits to the depths of depravity which Trump will sink in the name of getting his hands on greasy money. If he continues to be so blatant with his power grabs out in the open it makes one wonder just what he will be doing behind closed doors.
Lou Colagiovanni is an investigative journalist living in Las Vegas who specializes in politics and crime. His work has been highlighted all over the world and he is regularly featured on television and radio.