The chief executives of some of the largest coal and mining companies in the country have chosen the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a private conference next month, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
The hotel is a natural venue for such an event. The host of the conference, the National Mining Association, an industry lobby group, has won a string of policy victories and carve-outs from the Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress.
The NMA board of directors meeting, which takes place October 3-4, is yet the latest example of a special interest group spending thousands of dollars on a property owned directly by the Trump family. The Trump International charges over $800 a night for the days the mining event is scheduled.
“President Trump has refused to divest from the Trump Organization, so money spent at the president’s D.C. hotel will make it into the president’s pocket,” says Brendan Fischer, an election law expert with the Campaign Legal Center.
“The National Mining Association or any other lobbying group has likely concluded that spending money at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. is a solid way of currying favor with the administration — and that spending money anywhere else runs the risk of offending our very sensitive president,” Fischer added.
The NMA did not respond to a request for comment. While NMA does not make its board of directors public, tax disclosures from previous years reveal that the board has included chief executives from mining firms such as Peabody Energy, Drummond Company, and Cloud Peak Energy, among other major mining interests.
The event will include a discussion of policy strategy, along with speeches and meetings with members of the administration and other key decision-makers.
“The evening reception on the rooftop will be the first reception since the 2016 elections and will provide an excellent opportunity to meet the new members of Congress, build on our relationships, and share our perspectives with our guests from Congress and federal agencies,” the invitation notes.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a close ally of the coal and mining industry, is scheduled to address the group of coal executives at the hotel.
Zinke has been widely praised by industry and assailed by environmentalists and conservationists. Earlier this year, he not only repealed the Obama administration’s moratorium on new coal leases on public lands but reduced the amount of royalties that coal mining firms pay to the federal government.
Coal firms have seized upon the new rules and production levels throughout the country, particularly in Western states where much of the coal is extracted through massive strip mines on federal land, are increasing.
The Trump administration has also handed victory after victory to the coal industry in the form of regulatory rollbacks on environmental rules. In June, Trump announced that he will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which called for reductions in greenhouse gases. The administration has also worked with Republicans in Congress to take an ax on other rules hated by industry, such as the repeal of an Obama administration regulation to limit mining waste in waterways and streams.
Since Trump’s campaign victory, lobbyists for domestic and foreign interests have flocked to properties owned by Trump and his family, especially the hotel in Washington, D.C. Lobbyists for the candy industry, oil industry, funeral industry, as well as representatives of the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have booked events at the Trump International Hotel since November.
First published by The Intercept.