The potential conflict of interests between President-Elect Donald Trump and business mogul Donald Trump are piling up faster than dirty linens in housekeeping.
According to BuzzFeed News, just six days after Trump won the presidential election, the federal government finalized a key step towards a tax subsidy worth as much as $32 million for a Trump property that is in the process of turning the Washington D.C. landmark known as the "Old Post Office Building" into a Trump luxury hotel.
Experts are already using this subsidy as proof that the conflict of interest between businessman and president will continue to cast a shadow over Trump's presidency.
A tax subsidy, by definition, is given by the government to a person or company in order to, according to Investopedia, "remove some type of burden, and it is often considered to be in the overall interest of the public."
Trump has been leasing the historic D.C. property since 2012, and up until this point had only obtained "Conditional Approval" for what is called "Part 2" of the 20% subsidy. The company had submitted six amendmants since 2012 and all had received "conditional approval." It was not until November 14th — just shy of a week after he was elected president — that the National Parks Service formally approved "Part 2" of the tax credit.
This is great news for the hotel project — it will now get a tax break worth tens of millions from the government, presumably for maintaining the historic property while operating the hotel. But would the subsidy have been approved had Trump not become the incoming boss of the National Parks Service on November 8?
Steven Schooner, a professor of government procurement law at George Washington University School of Law tells BuzzFeed, "This is a classic or textbook example of a conflict of interest." Adding, "The decision-maker here, the National Park Service, works for the party that stands to benefit from a favorable decision."
In response to the suspicious timing, Jeremy Barnum, a National Parks Service spokesman denied any connection saying, "Certainly, by the National Park Service standpoint, this would not have been impacted by the election in any way."
Regardless of what Barnum claims, many are clearly concerned by the timing of approval, wondering if other federally funded programs will be pushed, or encouraged to approve things that may benefit Trump's business in the future.
Trump has made laughable attempts to distance himself from his business, using his favorite social media platform to assert that the President can't have a conflict of interest and that, anyway, he's more focusing on the "important task" of being president.
Though Trump says that steps are being taken to remove him from "business operations," he falls short of the standard practice of divesting himself entirely from his holdings and placing the assets in a blind trust.
Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
While supporters will no doubt applaud him for his sacrifice, the transfer of business from Trump to his children does not clear up conflict of interest concerns in the slightest.
Just one more thing for the millions who voted to keep Trump out of the White House to worry about for the next four years.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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