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Trump Chicago Hotel Profits Plummet Despite Infusion of Campaign Money

Trump’s company blames the drop on Chicago “violence” — but his lawyers admit his unpopularity is hurting business.

Demonstrators protest President Trump's visit to Chicago outside Trump International Hotel and Tower on October 28, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois.

Profits at President Trump’s Chicago hotel are down 89 percent over the last three years even though his re-election campaign has held ritzy fundraisers at the property.

Profits at the hotel fell from $16.7 million to just $1.8 million from 2015 to 2018, according to documents filed with Cook County and published by The Washington Post.

The Trump Organization told the Post in May that Chicago was “down as a market,” claiming that “the perceived threat of gun violence has harmed visitation to the destination.” But Trump’s hotel struggled even as other Chicago hotels “held steady or thrived,” The Post reported.

It also struggled despite a steady stream of business from Republican lawmakers, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign, who have all spent millions at Trump properties since he took office. Trump’s Chicago hotel was paid about $100,000 for a Trump campaign fundraiser last month, a Republican official told the Post.

Trump’s lawyers filed the document obtained by the outlet in a bid to lower the property’s taxes. The lawyers said that the profits fell as a reaction to Trump’s politics. “Then the Embarrassment came,” an investor told the Post of Trump’s presidential bid. Trump’s lawyers cited the quote in the documents.

It’s not the first time Trump’s properties have sought tax relief due to plummeting profits.

Trump’s Doral resort near Miami, where the president wanted to hold next year’s G7 summit before buckling under pressure, saw profits fall by 69 percent between 2015 and 2017.

“They are severely underperforming” relative to other resorts in the area, tax consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak told county officials in an attempt to lower the property’s tax bill. “There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”

Meanwhile, the Trump Organization is also considering selling the lease on its Washington hotel. “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell,” Eric Trump told The Wall Street Journal last month.

The hotel has been a major draw for Republicans and foreign governments seeking to curry favor with the president, and has led to multiple lawsuits and investigations. Trump is accused of violating the foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution in three separate federal lawsuits.

Talk of a sale comes despite Trump signing a 60-year lease on the property and vowing in 2012 that he would not sell any portion of it. The hotel opened just three years ago after undergoing a $200 million renovation, $170 million of which was borrowed from Deutsche Bank. The company is reportedly looking to sell the lease for around $500 million.

The Trump name is causing so many problems for the Trump Organization that it recently removed the president’s name from two of his oldest businesses, a pair of New York ice rinks Trump has owned since the 1980s.

The Trump Organization also lost its contracts to manage hotels in Manhattan, Toronto and Panama and six buildings in New York have removed his name from the properties.

“This is Donald Trump looking at the cold hard financial reality, that his name drags down the value of properties he controls,” journalist Tim O’Brien, the author of “TrumpNation,” told the Post. “And that — with his political prospects in question over the next year and a half — he understands that it means his financial prospects are in question.”

Trump has claimed that being president has cost him financially, though it is impossible to know since he refused to release his tax returns.

“This thing is costing me a fortune, being president,” he said at a rally in Pennsylvania in August.

One thing that’s clear is that Trump has paid a lot of taxpayer and donor money to his own properties. Trump and his team have made more than 200 visits to his properties since he took office, according to the Post, bringing in at least $1.8 million in revenue for his company.

Trump’s two dozen visits to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, have been paid for largely by taxpayers, including a $1,000 bar tab run up by his aides.

Trump’s visit to his golf course in Ireland brought in more than $100,000 in revenue after the club charged police more than $118,000 for rooms and food while providing security. Police paid thousands more when Vice President Mike Pence visited the club in September, even though it was 180 miles away from his meetings in Dublin.

Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics who quit his White House job after Trump took office, told the Post that Trump is using his position to prop up his businesses.

“What’s terrible about this,” he said, “is that it continues the pattern of President Trump finding ways to use the presidency — or his campaign — to profit himself at somebody else’s expense.”

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