Merkley introduces bill to ban Trump using taxpayer money to host foreign leaders at his clubs

An Oregon senator introduced legislation Monday that would ban the president from spending taxpayer money to host foreign leaders at his own properties.

The Scrutinizing White House Activities that Make Profits Act of 2019 specifically forbids taxpayer spending on foreign delegations at Trump properties following the president’s move to bring next year’s G7 summit to Trump National Doral Golf Resort in Florida.

Even the name of the bill – the SWAMP Act – was an obvious jab at Trump, who’s been criticized for failing to live up to campaign promises he’d “drain the swamp” by eliminating from government the effects of lobbyists’ influence and personal enrichment policies.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday announced the Doral Resort would host the 2020 G7 summit, a meeting of world leaders that would have brought hundreds to the troubled golf club during its slowest season.

The decision was panned in a bipartisan fashion.

Trump reversed his decision on Saturday, bowing to pressure from “Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.” But the president has continued to defend choosing Doral, complaining to the press Monday he only caved because “Democrats went crazy.”

Mulvaney called Doral “far and away the best physical facility for this meeting.” Mulvaney said 10 other properties had been reviewed as possible G7 summit sites, but he did not share anything about the decision process.

“It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,” Mulvaney said, quoting an unnamed site selection official.

Though Trump promised to host the event “at cost,” even some of his staunchest Republican allies had trouble defending the decision. The U.S. Constitution forbids government officials from taking payments from foreign governments and officials.

SWAMP Act author Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on Friday had promised to introduce legislation to stop Trump. On Monday, he introduced the bill with Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

“This G-7 announcement is corrupt. It’s a violation of the Constitution. It’s an abuse of power. And Congress can shut it down. I’m introducing a bill first thing next week to stop this corruption in its tracks,” Merkley tweeted Friday afternoon.

The SWAMP Act would ban U.S. taxpayer dollars from being used toward any multilateral or head of state meeting from being held at:

  • Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C.
  • Trump Tower, New York
  • Trump National Doral Golf Resort
  • Mar-a-Lago Club
  • Or any other property in which the President or his immediate family holds a majority ownership.