USA Today found that Trump has handed out memberships at his golf clubs in Virginia, New Jersey, and Florida to dozens of business executives and lobbyists from various industries and countries. This means that these people have close access to the President in exchange for a (hefty) annual fee.
The report also found that two-thirds of the lobbyists and executives have hit the links with the President at least once on the properties that the president has frequently visited during his first eight months in office.
Ethics experts are concerned those memberships may pose ethical questions even though they are perfectly legal. Former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub accused Trump of “pushing the limits” like no other president. Shaub resigned from his position after the White House refused to solve the possible conflicts of interests that may affect the president and his family serving in the White House.
Lobbyists Shelling Out $100K in Annual Fees
The report also revealed that the 50 plus business execs along with 21 registered lobbyists sometimes pay more than $100,000 in fees and thousands of dollars more in dues every year.
It is not the first time Trump’s business ties have drawn criticism over potential conflicts of interest that may affect his presidency. His critics have often accused him of generating conflicts of interests by not completely divesting himself from his business empire. There’s a push in Washington to impeach Trump for having violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Under the clause, the U.S. president is not allowed to receive gifts, office, emoluments, or titles from a foreign government or leader “without the consent of the Congress.” Earlier this year, NBC News found that the Trump Organization lost track of the payments received from foreign governments even though Trump had promised to donate those revenues to the U.S. Treasury.
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