Blog | Dec. 14, 2018

Calling out Trump’s deals: on the airwaves, in print – and at his hotel

What do you get the man who has everything (including a gold lift)?

With the holiday season approaching, it’s a question that will no doubt be crossing many minds among the rich and the powerful. When it comes to the president of the United States, however, we found the perfect answer.

This week, we delivered an early Christmas present to President Trump by publicly drawing attention to the conflicts of interest that continue to plague his presidency.

Like many of the best presents, ours came in several smaller packages.

The first arrived  early Sunday morning –December 9th (aka International Anti-Corruption Day) – when we put out a radio ad about a top concern of the American people: government corruption. It went out on WAMU, the number one public radio station in Washington D.C. – right in time for the President’s Fox & Friends commercial break.

Washington Express ad Dec 2018But as we know President Trump isn’t an avid radio listener, on Thursday we also took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post Express – a free daily newspaper given out at every metro station in DC. The ad highlighted how Trump repeatedly praises autocratic leaders who commit wide-scale human rights and corruption abuses.

These leaders happen to come from countries where he has ongoing, lucrative business deals, or are from countries that he describes as his top clients. Coincidence? We think not.

Of course, the President is a busy man and may not have time to read a daily newspaper. So, we wanted to reach him at one of his favorite go-to places in the city.  And for this one, he wouldn’t have to travel too far from the White House. There’s no more convenient location than the Trump International Hotel in DC, so we projected our greeting directly onto the front of the building, shining a light on how Trump’s problematic foreign policy decisions may be guided by his business interests.

As President of the US, Trump’s private businesses continue to make millions, whether through royalties from Trump-associated developments abroad or through foreign leaders and industry groups staying at his hotels in DC and New York, among other places. Trump has not fully separated himself from his business and remains the ultimate beneficiary of his companies.

The troubling consequences of this clear conflict of interest are already evident: President Trump continues to praise autocratic leaders who have no regard for human rights – all of whom he has financial ties to. Most US government officials are subject to conflicts of interest rules to prevent this situation from arising. However, such rules do not currently apply to the President or Vice President.

Moving from gifts to New Year’s resolutions: This week we sent a clear message that the new Congress must pass a comprehensive conflicts of interest law that prevents any US president from pursuing private business while in office. Otherwise, how can the American people be sure that the President is working in their interests and not just his own?

To be the first to hear about our future work on Trump’s deals, sign up here now and to help us take the campaign for a conflicts of interest law into 2019, please consider making a donation to support our work today.


  • Mark Normington

    Communications Officer

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