The Trump Organization announced Monday that it has sent a check for more than $191,000 to the United States Treasury, a figure that it said reflects its profits from doing business with foreign governments in the 2018 fiscal year.
“This voluntary donation fulfills our pledge to donate profits from foreign government patronage at our hotels and similar businesses during our father’s term in office,” Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in a statement on Monday.
Government ethics watchdogs and congressional Democrats have questioned the president’s pledge in the past, saying the methodology used does not require the Trump Organization to account for revenues earned from foreign-government patrons at unprofitable Trump properties.
The Trump Organization claims not to “market or solicit foreign government business” as part of its efforts to comply with so-called “emolument” concerns. That refers to a clause in the Constitution that prohibits any federal officeholder – including the president – from accepting any payment or benefit from a state or foreign government without permission from Congress.
“In fact, we go to great lengths to discourage foreign government patronage at our properties,” Eric Trump said in his statement.
But a significant amount of foreign business has been reported at the Trump Organization’s Washington, D.C., hotel, located in the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
The hotel, which has hosted several high-spending foreign clients since Trump took office, is currently the subject of two lawsuits over the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Last month, a government watchdog reported that the General Services Administration (GSA) – the federal agency that oversees the government-owned Old Post Office building – “ignored the Constitution” by allowing the Trump Organization to retain a lease of the Old Post Office when Trump was elected president.
Trump did not fully divest from his financial holdings upon taking office, breaking with precedent set by previous presidents to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Last year, the Trump Organization cut a check for $151,470 to the Treasury for what it said was its 2017 profit from foreign governments.