Trump hotels: “Pay Trump Bribes Here!”
Artist Robin Bell projected “Pay Trump Bribes Here” onto the front of the hotel Donald Trump owns near the White House. Photo/Courtesy of Robin Bell

WASHINGTON –Donald Trump’s sons have announced that the Trump corporate conglomerate is launching two new hotel chains, thus reneging on Trump’s pledge that his various enterprises would not enter “new business deals” while he was president.

The “no new deals” pledge is just one of many false promises Trump has made regarding his business dealings.

Unlike every other president, Trump has refused to divest himself of his businesses or to put them into a blind trust. He is raking in profits while occupying the White House.

However, he did promise to maintain a “church and state-like” separation between himself and his many corporations. He said his sons, Eric and Don Jr., would take charge and would not discuss business operations with him.

It hasn’t happened. Trump meets regularly with his sons to go over the books.

Furthermore, in an attempt to get around the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits presidents from accepting anything of value from foreign governments, Trump vowed to donate to the U.S. Treasury all profits he makes from foreign dignitaries staying at his hotels.

When he made the promise, a debate commenced among experts as to whether or not the gesture would bring Trump into constitutional compliance.

The experts could have saved their breath. The Trump Organization is not even recording foreign representatives who stay at Trump hotels, let alone putting aside the profits made from their visits.

The list of pledges made and broken goes on and on.

Adding insult to injury, the theme of one of the new Trump hotel chains is … wait for it … Trump’s presidential campaign!

The Trump Organization is calling the new chain “American Idea.” Don Jr. told the Washington Post that he and his brother got the brainstorm for the theme while traveling across the nation with their father’s campaign. The hotels will feature nick knacks from the “real” America, presumably including Trump campaign paraphernalia.

The other new hotel chain being launched by Trump is called the “Scion” chain.

Actually, the Trump Organization itself will not build the new hotels. As is the case with the majority of Trump business deals, Trump’s corporate empire is just selling the right to use the Trump brand in return for management and franchise fees.

The owner of both of the new chains, Chawla Hotels, will begin by constructing or renovating hotels across the state of Mississippi; some under the “America Idea” name, some under the “Scion” brand. Chawla already owns close to two dozen hotels under various franchise names

Meanwhile, last week the Attorneys General of the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a suit in federal court charging that Trump’s continued ownership of a global business empire has rendered the president “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors” and has undermined the integrity of the U.S. political system.

Also, the suit says that the new Trump hotel near the White House has an unfair competitive advantage over other businesses because Trump is using the presidency to promote it. Trump has appeared at the hotel and greeted guests repeatedly since becoming president.

For example, the Embassy of Kuwait switched its initial booking from another hotel to hold an event at Trump’s place. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the nation of Georgia have also booked rooms there.

What’s worse, the suit says, Trump’s hotel is drawing business away from convention centers in DC and Maryland, both of which were built with public funds.

Of course, Trump’s promotion of his DC hotel is only one of many examples of how Trump is using government resources to hike Trump profits.

Aaron Rupar writes in the ThinkProgress online newsletter, that “The reciprocal financial interests at work are clear. Since becoming president, Trump has repeatedly visited properties bearing his name, raising their profile as a result. In turn, his sons have leveraged that exposure into marketing opportunities. For instance, in late March, Don Jr. promoted the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia on his social media accounts on the Monday following a weekend during which President Trump had visited the club twice. [And in] “in April, an official State Department website promoted President Trump’s private club in Florida. About a week later, taxpayer-funded Voice of America promoted Ivanka Trump’s new book on its website and Twitter account.”

Last month, artist and filmmaker Robin Bell hit the nail on the head. From a van across the street from the DC Trump hotel, he projected the words “Pay Trump Bribes Here” onto the hotel’s façade.

He also projected the text of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.




Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.