Julia Harte

Writings & wanderings.

Public investments in Trump-operated hotel set dangerous precedent: U.S. senators

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May 1, 2017, Reuters

FILE PHOTO: The Trump Soho Hotel is seen in New YorkU.S. President Donald Trump is flirting with unparalleled violations of the Constitution by not divesting himself from a hotel management company that benefits financially from public pension fund investments, according to two Democratic U.S. senators.

Reuters exclusively reported on April 26 that public pension funds in at least seven U.S. states periodically send millions of dollars to an investment fund that owns the Trump SoHo Hotel and Condominium in New York City and pays one of Trump’s companies to run it, according to a Reuters review of public records.

The investments could put Trump at risk of violating an obscure constitutional clause that prohibits the president from receiving additional payments beyond his salary from state governments, say several constitutional lawyers. A separate constitutional clause bars the president from receiving payments from foreign governments.

Trump is “setting an extremely dangerous precedent,” said Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut expressed similar concerns.

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Written by juliaharte

May 1, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A New York hotel deal shows how some public pension funds help to enrich Trump

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April 26, 2017, Reuters

FILE PHOTO: The Trump Soho Hotel is seen in New YorkPublic pension funds in at least seven U.S. states have invested millions of dollars in an investment fund that owns a New York hotel and pays one of President Donald Trump’s companies to run it, according to a Reuters review of public records. That arrangement could put Trump at risk of violating an obscure constitutional clause, some legal experts say.

The Trump SoHo Hotel and Condominium in Manhattan is an upscale 46-story property owned by a Los Angeles investment group, the CIM Group, through one of its real estate funds. (Read the most recent amendment to the Trump SoHo’s offering plan: tmsnrt.rs/2q3HJH8)

The possible problem for Trump lies in the fact that state- and city-run pension funds have invested in the CIM fund and pay it a few million dollars in quarterly fees to manage their investments in its portfolio, which includes the Trump SoHo, according to state investment records.

In return for marketing and managing the hotel-condo, CIM pays Trump International Hotels Management LLC 5.75 percent of the SoHo’s operating revenues annually.

That payment chain merits closer scrutiny because it could put Trump at risk of falling foul of a little-known constitutional rule prohibiting the flow of money from states to the pockets of a sitting president, five ethics and constitutional law experts interviewed by Reuters said.

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Written by juliaharte

April 26, 2017 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Kuwait could pay up to $60,000 for party at Trump Hotel in Washington

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February 25, 2017, Reuters

download (5)The Kuwaiti government could pay up to $60,000 to President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington for a party it held on Wednesday in an early test of Trump’s promise to turn over profits from such events to the U.S. Treasury.

The Kuwait Embassy hosted an event to mark their National Day. Similar National Day celebrations at the Trump International Hotel for a crowd of several hundred can run from $40,000 to $60,000, according to cost estimates from the hotel seen by Reuters. The hotel declined to comment on the figures.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Sheri Dillon, pledged at a Jan. 11 press conference to donate any Trump Hotel profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.

The White House and Alan Garten, the general counsel for the Trump Organization, did not return calls for comment on whether any profits from foreign government payments to the hotel have been donated. Dillon’s firm declined to comment.

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Written by juliaharte

February 25, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Emboldened by Trump, some police unions seek to overhaul Obama’s reforms

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January 30, 2017, Reuters

FILE PHOTO - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to police gathered at Fraternal Order of Police lodge during a campaign event in StatesvilleSteve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, had a blunt message for Donald Trump during a meeting in September: court-ordered reforms aimed at curbing police abuses in the midwestern city are not working.

Loomis and two other attendees said Trump seemed receptive to Loomis’s concerns that federally monitored police reforms introduced during the Obama administration in some cities in response to complaints of police bias and abuse are ineffective and impose an onerous burden on police forces.

Trump, Loomis said, was “taken aback by the waste of money” when the union chief told him that federal monitors overseeing his city’s police department earned $250 an hour – a standard salary for the position.

“I think he’s going to have a more sensible approach to rising crime rates,” Loomis said of now President Trump. “What I got from the meeting was that Donald Trump is going be a very strong supporter of law and order.”

Emboldened by Trump’s election, some of the country’s biggest police groups want to renegotiate “consent decrees” agreed to under President Barack Obama, the police labor groups said in interviews.

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Written by juliaharte

January 30, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Emails show how Republicans lobbied to limit voting hours in North Carolina

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November 3, 2016, Reuters

North Carolina campaign buttons sit on a table before the start of a rally with Trump in Fletcher, North CarolinaWhen Bill McAnulty, an elections board chairman in a mostly white North Carolina county, agreed in July to open a Sunday voting site where black church members could cast ballots after services, the reaction was swift: he was labeled a traitor by his fellow Republicans.

“I became a villain, quite frankly,” recalled McAnulty at a state board of elections meeting in September that had been called to resolve disputes over early voting plans. “I got accused of being a traitor and everything else by the Republican Party,” McAnulty said.

Following the blowback from Republicans, McAnulty later withdrew his support for the Sunday site.

In an interview with Reuters, he said he ultimately ruled against opening the Sunday voting site in Randolph County because he had “made a mistake in reading the wishes of the voters.” He declined to discuss the episode further.

This year’s highly charged presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump has stoked accusations by both parties of political meddling in the scheduling of early voting hours in North Carolina, a coveted battleground state with a history of tight elections.

In emails, state and county Republican officials lobbied members of at least 17 county election boards to keep early-voting sites open for shorter hours on weekends and in evenings – times that usually see disproportionately high turnout by Democratic voters. Reuters obtained the emails through a public records request.

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Written by juliaharte

November 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

U.S. network of Turkish cleric facing pressure as those at home seek help

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September 26, 2016, Reuters

gulen.jpegA network of more than 150 U.S. charter schools linked to followers of Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric the Turkish government blames for instigating July’s failed coup, has come under growing financial and legal strain, according to school officials, current and former members of Gulen’s movement, and public records reviewed by Reuters.

The publicly financed schools, a key source of jobs and business opportunities for U.S. members of Gulen’s global movement, have sharply slowed their expansion in recent years, public records show.

The slowdown comes amid a series of government probes in more than a dozen states into allegations ranging from misuse of taxpayer funds to visa fraud. The investigations launched by state and federal officials have not resulted in criminal charges or directly implicated Gulen, whose name is not on any of the charter schools. The increased pressure on the schools also comes as the Turkish government is cracking down on Gulen supporters at home and presses hard for Gulen’s extradition.

Just three new schools were opened each in 2015 and this year to date, down from a peak of 23 new schools in 2010, according to a Reuters review of the public records of 153 charter schools and their management companies around the country.

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Written by juliaharte

September 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

In some U.S. cities, police push back against ‘open-carry’ gun laws

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July 19, 2016, Reuters

Steve Thacker with a rifle and a handgun is surrounded by members of the news media in Cleveland's public square in ClevelandTents, ladders, coolers, canned goods, tennis balls and bicycle locks are banned in the area surrounding the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

But guns are fine.

When Ohio Governor John Kasich on Sunday rejected the Cleveland police union’s request to ban the open carrying of firearms near the Quicken Loans Arena, he weighed into a national debate pitting city authorities who contend with gun violence against state lawmakers who answer to gun-loving voters.

Law enforcement leaders in several major cities say municipalities should have to the power to suspend open-carry laws when needed to protect public safety. Currently, 15 of the 45 states that allow openly carried handguns give cities power to restrict those laws, according to a Reuters review of state statutes.

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Written by juliaharte

July 19, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized