California Democrat Proposes Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Stays at Trump Hotels

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (The Sacramento Bee/TNS/Hamodia) -
Trump National Doral Resort. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

A Silicon Valley Democrat wants to make sure California doesn’t spend any more taxpayer money at President Donald Trump’s hotels.

A proposed law from Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, would prohibit state agencies from spending money at any hotels owned by a president of the United States, present or past.

Only one California state worker has booked a stay at a Trump hotel through the state’s contracted travel agency or its online booking tool since the start of 2016, according to the Department of General Services.

A California Public Employees’ Retirement System employee stayed at Trump National Doral Miami in April 2017 for a conference at the hotel, CalPERS confirmed.

But officials from other states have visited the properties more frequently, according to nonprofit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The nonprofit identified 64 visits to Trump properties by 47 state officials, including 20 Republican governors. At least 90 members of Congress have visited the properties 188 times, according to the group’s analysis.

In a news release, Assemblyman Low cited a clause in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the president from benefiting financially from state governments while in office, known as an emoluments clause.

“Public officials, at any level, should not profit off the constituents that they were elected to serve and represent,” Low said in a news release. “No branch of government is above the Constitution, and this legislation will ensure that California taxpayers are not further exploited by Donald Trump’s violations of the emoluments clause.”

The ban would apply to all state agencies, the Legislature, the judicial council and the University of California and California State University systems.

California has limits on how much it will pay for hotel stays, which for most of the state is $90 per night. But there are higher limits for more expensive areas and employees can file excess lodging rate requests for more expensive rooms.

An entry-level room at the Trump National Doral over a weekend this coming April costs about $400 per night.

The proposal, Assembly Bill 2020, isn’t Low’s first restriction on paid state travel.

He authored Assembly Bill 1887, a 2016 law that prohibits the state government from paying for travel to states that reduce civil rights protections. The California Attorney General’s Office has added 11 states to the “banned” list since the law was passed.

The State of Texas challenged California’s travel ban in the US Supreme Court.