Trump endorsements follow in the wake of candidates spending money at his properties

Fast Company

On a rainy night in late September, when President Donald Trump reportedly signaled his support for Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) candidacy for Speaker of the House, he chose the perfect setting for the favor–a private fundraiser for McCarthy and Vice President Mike Pence’s joint fundraising committee at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

McCarthy and Pence’s PAC, Protect the House, spent $154,000 to host the reception and dinner for around 300 guests at the hotel that night. That’s on top of $65,000 that Protect the House has previously spent at that venue and another $7,500 at Trump’s Bedminster golf course–all of which puts money in the pocket of the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, just a few blocks from the White House. And that directly benefits President Trump, who neither divested from his 77% ownership of the hotel nor put them in a blind trust (as is customary for U.S. presidents) when he took office.

While it’s not clear if Trump’s support and affection for McCarthy stems from his hotel selling more than $200,000 of catering services to the congressman’s committee–McCarthy’s main competitor for the Speaker position is conservative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a Trump ally, whose campaign spent a little more than $3,000 on food and drinks during a fundraiser at the Trump International’s steakhouse last May—the president does have a track record of championing his customers and lavishing praise on his guests and customers. The venue has become a magnet for administration officials, lobbyists, and foreign officials currying favor with the president, as has been reported by Fast Company.

“This is another example of the problems that arise from President Trump refusing to divest from his businesses,” says Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to holding candidates and government officials accountable. “We don’t know whether the president is endorsing these candidates because he supports their platform and policies or whether his decision to endorse them was influenced by their spending money at the properties he still owns.”

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