Trump Continues to Use the Presidency to Benefit His Properties

Throughout the entirety of his presidential campaign — and even into his term in office — Donald Trump steadfastly refused to publicize his tax returns, making him the first candidate in history to do so. Once elected, President Donald Trump bucked tradition again by refusing to separate himself from his business entities. The president argued that while he would no longer be in charge, there was no reason he shouldn’t continue to gain financially from his companies.

President Trump is a self-proclaimed wealthy man, and there’s little reason to doubt that fact. Yet throughout the 19 months he has been in office, he continues to plug his business as if the presidency is a marketing blitz for the Trump empire. The Republican Party quickly learned that the way to his heart was to hold their events at his establishments – and the president joyfully reciprocates by headlining their fundraisers and attending their galas.

With a “Winter White House” in his property in Mar-a-Lago and weekends tucked away at his Bedminster golf resort, it’s clear that the while the Trump brand of politics has been taking a hit nationally, the Trump family bottom line gets stronger every day.

Now, the president has taken that work ethic one step further, converting international diplomacy into a commercial for his lagging Scotland golf resort.

By all accounts, the site has been a serious money drain for the Trumps, losing roughly $31 million in one year according to Bloomberg news. But the president wants to ignore that reality, as he made clear in his diplomatic trip to the UK.”The weather is beautiful, and this place is incredible!” he tweeted from the resort, using his private account rather than the official POTUS account in order to skirt any potential ethics violation.

The Trump administration would argue that he wasn’t violating the emoluments clause, which prohibits him from benefiting financially from his presidency. But the Scottish property definitely benefited from the visit from the president.

The Huffington Post reports:

The US government reportedly forked over more than $77,000 to Trump Turnberry, Donald Trump’s reportedly unprofitable golf resort in Scotland, in the lead-up to the president’s recent stay at the property. Starting in April, the State Department paid $77,345.35 in several tranches to SLC Turnberry Ltd, the Trump company that owns the Scottish resort, reported Reuters on Wednesday. Citing federal government spending records, which were first reported by The Scotsman, the news agency said the payments were listed as being for “hotel rooms for VIP visit.”

According to the Trump family, there’s absolutely no issue here whatsoever.

Eric Trump argued via Twitter:

[W]hile not required, we have decided that for any United States Govt business, we charge our COST and do NOT profit from these stays. Much more would be spent if they stayed elsewhere.

What the younger Trump neglects to mention isn’t that the hotels are charging more than they would for a regular room, but that having the entourage’s business at all is, in fact, the definition of profiting.

Is the Trump family benefiting financially from the presidency through their properties? That question could easily be answered with a peek at some filed tax returns. Unfortunately President Trump still refuses to release this information. And now things are becoming even more suspect as a number of Trump properties have mysteriously stopped paying their tax bills on time.

According to a report from the Washington Post, nearly all of the Trump properties had near perfect records with their property tax bills paid completely and on time — but that screeched to a halt near the end of 2017. At that point, properties across the US periodically missed their due dates, ratcheting up large financial penalties despite the fact that paying tax bills should have been a routine process.

Often, the inability to pay on time — and the decision to take a fine instead — suggests a cashflow problem, indicating that these Trump entities might be struggling financially. If so, the administration’s continuing promotion of these properties could well be more than a violation of the emoluments clause.

Perhaps we, the US taxpayers, are actually the ones keeping his hotels afloat.