Should the Trump Organization be fired, suspended and debarred from doing business with agencies of the federal government?
Suspension and debarment would have already happened if the president didn’t retaliate, opines an editorial in the publication "Government Executive" by law Professors Steven L. Schooner at George Washington University Law School and Kathleen Clark at Washington University Law School in St. Louis, and general counsel Scott Amey at the Project on Government Oversight, which operates the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.
Since 1795, companies and individuals doing business under federal contracts must meet certain ethical standards. In New York and California, Trump Organization had to pay a $25 million settlement to Trump University students duped by false statement. Students will get back an estimated 80 percent to 90 percent of what they paid for sham workshops claiming to teach them the secrets of success in real estate.
In an unrelated case, Trump Charitable Foundation was dissolved and ordered to pay $2 million for self-dealing and for illegally misusing charity money in violation of state and federal laws. Self-dealing is using donations personally. The money was diverted to pay Trump’s personal debts and for Trump’s campaign. Eight charities were ordered compensated. Some people mix this up with Eric Trump’s charity, which came under scrutiny for diverting from $59,000 to over $200,000 annually for St. Jude’s fundraisers after claiming Trump Organization comped the event costs, in-kind and for diverting some of the funds to other charities, instead of as represented to donors.
In another jurisdiction, Trump Organization is being sued for over $1 million for misusing not-for-profit funds to pay Trump’s hotel. Two more lawsuits allege that in different states Trump is accepting foreign emoluments through his hotels. Vice President Pence lodged at a Trump hotel 180 miles from his official duties in Ireland, on Trump’s suggestion. The president’s corporation got more money when the Air National Guard made a nonsensical stop at Trump’s Scottish resort while delivering supplies to Kuwait. One of the flight crew noted the costs exceeded his per diem allowance for meals and lodging.
Recently, Trump tried awarding the G-7 conference to his own Florida golf resort, Doral. He cancelled that plan after public and media criticism that hosting the world leaders’ summit violates the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, once he learned Congress’ House Judiciary Committee would investigate if he did. For not reporting the use of campaign contributions for hush money, Trump’s attorney went to prison.
In debarment proceedings, the company charged with government fraud may defend itself against becoming ineligible for future government checks with the full array of constitutional due process protections. In 2018, some 1,300 debarments were "blacklisted" in the routine course of operations.
The Office of Government Ethics warned Trump to divest Trump Organization, or at least place it into a blind trust, but it still operates. Trump’s D.C. hotel has hosted 73 political events, held 111 special interest group events, garnered 65 foreign trademarks, and hosted 119 members of Congress, plus 130 foreign officials.
Trump is using his pull to route government contracts to companies that make campaign gifts for the border wall, private prisons and immigration detention. He isn’t just using his office to aggregate a personal fortune off of taxpayers, all the while enhancing his brand value. He is also steering government contracts away from those he thinks are not on his side, such as Jeff Bezos.
Trump fires policymakers who challenge his lawbreaking. Congress should protect employees so they can expose preferential self-dealing and suspend or debar Trump Organization.
Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.