Trump's White House Staff Reportedly Gets Deals At His Golf Club & Ethics Experts Aren't Pleased
What might be the latest controversy in the Trump administration probably seems small at first, but in fact is a pretty big deal. Politico has reported that Trump's White House staff gets deals at at least one of his golf courses, as one of the perks of working in the administration. According to Politico, Trump staffers get to purchase Trump products at some of Trump's golf clubs for the same discounted prices that members get. And they don't even have to pay the standard price of $300,000 for entry, either. Bustle has reached out for comment from the White House.
Via acquired receipts from staffers, the discounts for staffers seem to range from 15 to 70 percent off of items in the store, depending on whether the items are already on sale. Regardless of how you feel about golf apparel, one thing is certain: there's a huge ethics problem with presidential staffers reportedly getting discounts to the president's personal brand.
For one, discounts for governmental employees are not allowed unless they are available to all government employees, per the Office of Government Ethics. It's also fine if it's just a standard discount for any government employee. But if it's a specialized discount for a smaller wing of employees, the discount is essentially a "gift," which could constitute both bribery or preferential treatment. Neither of those is good.
And it's not just any old employee who can gain access to the Trump discount. Politico reports that the employee has to have a Secret Service pin and has to have access to the White House.
Beyond the standard violation of ethics that goes into offering a federal employee a gift, there's another, murkier issue here: Trump is clearly still very involved with his businesses, and he's still profiting from them, both directly and indirectly. For example, US News reports that at least 40 special interest groups have held meetings at Trump organizations in the last year, and at least 11 governments have paid Trump's businesses in one way or another.
What's more, Ivanka Trump's products were exempt from Trump's tariffs on China, according to the Huffington Post, raising eyebrows about whether or not his daughter's business was its own conflict of interest.
Norm Eisen, who was the former ethics czar for Barack Obama, said to Politico,
It does have an effect on how Trump tries to secure personal loyalty and woo people away from what should be their primary and their only loyalty — to the Constitution, to public service and to the people of the United States. This is another small inducement, apparently contrary to federal law, that he uses to bind his staff to him personally.
If you're alarmed by the idea of Trump "gifting" his staffers with the discounted purchase products that enhance his own net wealth, you can call your senator or House representative and let them know that you won't accept the "gifting" of discounts to federal employees.