A super PAC that supports President Donald Trump spent nearly $33,000 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. in the last financial quarter.
A report by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) found seven expenses at Trump International Hotel by America First Action, Inc. Four of these transactions occurred on Nov. 17, with the other three taking place on individually separate dates (Oct. 26, Nov. 22 and Dec. 13). The seven combined expenses added up to just under $32,700 within that financial quarter.
Trump has come under considerable fire for the practices of Trump International Hotel since he was elected president, especially considering he has not fully divested himself from his business empire. Roughly one month after he was elected, Vice President-elect Mike Pence delivered the keynote address at an event hosted by the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. That same month there were unsubstantiated reports that the Embassy of Kuwait had moved its annual National Day celebration from the Four Seasons in Georgetown, due to pressure from individuals associated with Trump (Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah denied any pressure but admitted he "may have" spoken to someone from the Trump Organization). In September, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump appointed, delivered the keynote address at a meeting of the Fund for American Studies.
As Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, put it when Trump hosted a campaign fundraiser at Trump International Hotel in June, "anytime he profits from the hotel, as he is doing tonight, he is violating the domestic emoluments clause."
He added, "Trump monetizes his office constantly. But tonight a new low: he's collecting cash from being president, from hotel, & from his party."
America First Action raised $4 million in 2017, including $1 million from Murray Energy. The coal company's donation comes after its CEO, Robert Murray, personally lobbied the White House to rollback Obama-era environmental regulations. As The New York Times explains:
An additional $1 million came from Murray Energy, a coal company based in Ohio that has assiduously courted Mr. Trump as it pressed the new administration to repeal President Barack Obama’s climate change policies intended to shut down old coal-burning power plants. The company had previously donated a combined $550,000 to help fund the Republican convention in Cleveland and Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
In the weeks after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Murray’s chief executive officer, Robert E. Murray, wrote confidential memos to Vice President Mike Pence and the energy secretary, Rick Perry, laying out a wish list of environmental rollbacks, which he discussed in a meeting with Mr. Perry. The administration is on track to fulfill many of the items on Mr. Murray’s list.
Along with Trump properties, Trump's top campaign aides also profited off the spending of his leading super PAC in 2017. A firm led by Brad Parscale, formerly the Trump campaign's digital director, received nearly $140,000 in payments from America First Action in the second half of the year.