This Week in Conflicts: Trump’s D.C. Hotel Charges Secret Service, House Passes Legislation Barring Spending at Trump properties and a Subpoena for Possible Ethics Violations


President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, addresses his remarks at the Pentagon Thursday, January 17, 2019, announcing the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

This week, recently released spending documents show the Secret Service was charged more than $200,000 by President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., the House passed legislation that would prevent spending by some federal agencies at some Trump properties and Kellyanne Conway has been subpoenaed to provide testimony related to possible Hatch Act violations.

The Trump International Hotel, Washington, DC USA

Secret Service Charged $200K by Trump’s D.C. Hotel

NBC News is reporting the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. charged the Secret Service $215,254 from September 2016 to February 2018.

The news organization obtained the information by requesting expense documents through the federal Freedom of Information Act, which allows the public to request documents created and managed by the government. 

While the documents did not specify what the charges were for, NBC News said they probably coincide with providing security for President Trump while he attends events at the hotel, as well as cover the cost of food while the secret service members are working.

“The agency paid $33,638 for unspecified charges over two days in June, which coincided with Trump’s first re-election campaign fundraiser,” NBC News reported.

Other charges include, “a bill for $14,900 for two days in June 2017 and another for $11,475 for two days the next month.”

Rear view of Mar-a-Lago looking east. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe)

House Passes Legislation Barring Spending at Trump properties

This week the House passed legislation that would bar various federal entities, including the White House, from doing business with Trump-affiliated establishments.

As the Washinton Post reports, the provision was included in a $24 billion appropriations bill for various federal agencies. The amendment to the bill that included the spending ban was sponsored by Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.). The Senate has not acted on its corresponding bill.

According to the amendment, none of the agencies funded in the bill may “enter into any new contract, grant, or cooperative agreement” with any of dozens of listed entities.

“Last week, the House passed a separate bill that included language banning the State Department from spending money at Trump-branded properties, which could affect Trump’s foreign trips if signed into law,” the Washington Post reports.

Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Kellyanne Conway Subpoenaed Over Possible Ethics Law Violations

This week a House panel voted to subpoena Kellyanne Conway for her testimony related to possible violations of federal ethics law.

According to the New York Times, House members are requesting her testimony “after she failed to show to a hearing at which a special counsel told the committee she should be fired from the White House for her ‘egregious, repeated, and very public violations’ of federal ethics law.

Conway, a White House counselor, is being accused of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from participating in political speech while performing their official duties.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a report citing Conway for multiple violations of the Act. The report cited her comments about the 2020 presidential race and the Alabama Senate election in 2017.

Screenshot of the Bloomberg website highlighting their story about Kushner Companies Times Square property.

Debt in Times Square

According to Bloomberg, Kushner Companies is in a tough position with a property in Times Square.

“Kushner Cos. bought the first six floors of the (New York) Times building for $296 million in 2015, envisioning a multifloor amusement park in the heart of Times Square,” according to the article. “Four years later, a toxic brew of debt, conflict and vacancies has put their investment in jeopardy.”

Kushner Companies is a real estate company owned by Jared Kushner’s family. Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, and senior adviser has resigned as the chief executive of the company but still retains most of his stake in the company.

According to Bloomberg, Kushner Companies inherited some of the tenants but has also brought in some new ones, including the National Geographic Encounter.

“The Kushners’ new tenants have a few things in common, including ticket prices exceeding $30, underwhelming crowds and financial trouble,” Bloomberg reports. “…Kushner Cos. assumed that all these tenants would be paying rent when it piled $370 million of loans onto the building in an October 2016 refinancing, most of it from Deutsche Bank AG. In March, the company defaulted on one high-interest chunk of its debt to other lenders, and the property has often run at a loss after accounting for loan payments, according to data compiled from disclosures to investors. While there’s always room for improvement, spaces for so-called experiential retailers require custom designs and can take years to fill.”

Representatives for Kushner Cos. didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s numerous requests for comment.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking. 

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.