American Oversight Launches “Defund Trump” Investigation

Watchdog Group Asks General Services Administration and Office of Government Ethics to Bar Government Employees from Spending Money at Trump Properties

Washington, DC – Non-partisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today launched Defund Trump, a campaign aimed at preventing President Trump and his family from financially profiting from government service.

“Rather than draining the swamp as he promised during his campaign, President Trump has created an entirely new quagmire where he and the first family luxuriate in the muck,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “President Trump’s self-dealing may be unsurpassed in American presidential history – never before has so much taxpayer money been diverted to the president’s pocketbook as government business is steered to Trump properties around the globe.”

American Oversight sent a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), and members of congressional oversight committees, highlighting numerous instances of taxpayer funds being paid to Trump properties. The letter also proposed concrete steps to protect federal employees from being coerced into financially benefiting the president’s businesses and suggested changes to agency and congressional guidelines to prohibit the use of Trump properties for government business.

In addition to the letter, American Oversight launched its own investigation of the issue and submitted 31 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to a range of federal departments and agencies seeking the release of records and communications related to government payments to Trump Organization properties for travel and events.

Included are requests for records regarding the costs associated with visits to Trump properties by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon.

Separately, American Oversight is also requesting records related to travel by Department of Education staff to properties owned by members of Secretary DeVos’ family, including the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

“Voters elected Trump to run the country, not turn the presidency into a four-year long infomercial and cash-cow for his business empire,” Evers continued. “President Trump refuses to adhere to conflict-of-interest rules and Congress refuses to act, so the rest of the federal government needs to take steps to ensure the rules are followed by withholding taxpayer funds from Trump-owned properties.”

The launch of Defund Trump follows numerous press reports of taxpayer money being spent at luxury Trump properties, including $15,000 by the State Department for rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver, Canada, and a $130,000 a month office lease by the Department of Defense at Trump Tower in New York City.

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