US President Donald Trump is touting the Doral golf resort in Florida as the ideal place for the next G7 Summit – close to the airport, plenty of hotel rooms, separate buildings for every delegation, even top facilities for the media.
There’s just one detail he left out: He owns the place.
Government ethics watchdogs say Trump’s proposal to bring world leaders to his Miami-area resort would be a major conflict of interest because delegates would have no choice but to spend money at his property.
“It’s ethics violation squared,” said Kathleen Clark of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.
Trump’s pitch comes as several lawsuits go through the courts accusing the president of violating the US Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bans gifts from foreign governments.
It also comes as Doral, by far the biggest revenue generator among the Trump Organisation’s 17 golf properties, appears to have taken a hit from Trump’s move into politics.
Trump’s financial disclosure shows he owes money to Deutsche Bank which helped him buy the property in 2012. As at the end of last year, Trump had two mortgages on the resort, one for more than $50 million, the other for as much as $25 million.
Doral member Peter Brooke said a G7 summit would bring in “considerable income” for the club, citing the need to accommodate Secret Service, guards and other staff that must accompany each foreign government delegation. “They would have to house all of them at the various lodges, not to mention food and more staff,” he said.
At Monday’s news conference, Trump said, other people were pushing Doral as a venue – not just him. He said the Secret Service and the military have been visiting various sites and appear to have formed a bit of consensus already.
“They went to places all over the country and they came back and they said, ‘This is where we’d like to be,”‘ Trump said. “It’s not about me. It’s about getting the right location.”
He then added: “I’m not going to make any money. I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money.”