The Republican National Convention will likely be held on federal property in Washington, D.C., but President Donald Trump and his family will still profit.
The convention will be be centered around the federally owned Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, which is near the Trump International Hotel, and will be spread across government-owned properties as the event is reworked to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reported Politico.
“Picking a venue across the street from Trump’s D.C. hotel is no coincidence,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “The Republican National Committee has privately paid Donald Trump throughout his presidency and it’s sadly no surprise that their largest event would continue that shameful practice.”
Titus chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the hotel Trump leases from the government, and the RNC's arrangements -- which Trump says could include an acceptance speech from the White House -- are raising new ethical and legal concerns.
“It is completely inappropriate and unethical for a sitting president to use the White House as the backdrop for a political convention speech,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who serves on the House Oversight Committee. “The fact that we have to even comment on that demonstrates how morally bankrupt this president is.”
Trump's hotel in the capital took in $40.5 million in 2019, according to his latest financial disclosure filed July 31, although the lease contract specifically prohibits him from making money from the property, whose lease was put up for sale last year.
"[No] elected official of the Government of the United States ... shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom," the contract states.
More than 300 delegates will gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, the convention's official host, to officially nominate Trump for president, but most other activities will take place in Washington, where social distancing guidelines prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
Federal buildings are exempt from those guidelines, but a person familiar with RNC planning said no gatherings that large were expected at Mellon Auditorium.
The four-night event, which starts Aug. 24, will include in-person and virtual speeches from first lady Melania Trump and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, among others.