President Donald Trump’s real estate firm has earned millions as its hotels and resorts served as political backrooms for those seeking favors from the administration.
The Trump Organization’s hotels and resorts received $12 million from 60 patrons with business before the government during the first two years of Trump’s presidency, a New York Times investigation found.
Many of those customers — including developers, financial institutions and foreign governments — saw their interests advanced, according to the investigation, which relied on interviews with roughly 250 executives, lobbyists, employees and members of Trump Organization clubs, as well as those close to the administration.
“Once he became president, everyone wanted to be around him,” said billionaire and Florida developer Jeff Greene, contending that it wasn’t influence-peddling. “People like to be where presidents are.”
Golf outings, corporate events, dinners and galas were hosted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Trump National Doral and Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. More than 70 groups brought new events to Trump properties. The president attended 34 fundraisers for his campaign at those properties, bringing the firm $3 million in revenue.
GEO Group, a private prison REIT, moved its annual leadership conference to the Doral and paid at least $32,100 to Mar-a-Lago during the first two years of Trump’s presidency, the Times found. In 2018, founder George Zoley reportedly told a business associate that he viewed the Trump administration as “transactional.” GEO’s government contracts grew to $900 million last fiscal year, up from $500 million during the last year of Obama’s presidency.
Eric Trump, who along with his brother Donald Jr. took over day-to-day management of the Trump Organization, sometimes informed his father of which groups were booking events at Mar-a-Lago, according to the Times.
A representative for the Trump Organization did not respond to the Times’ inquiries for comment. A White House spokesperson said that Trump had “kept his promise” to “drain the swamp and always put America first.” [NYT] — Danielle Balbi