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The Washington Post has a story about how the National Confectioners Association (NCA) this week is meeting in South Florida at the Trump National Doral resort near Miami, where they were plotting lobbying strategy in the Ivanka Trump ballroom, engaging in a dessert networking event on the Donald J. Trump grand patio, and, "between meetings, attendees were eligible to enjoy outings on a Trump-owned golf course and massages at a Trump spa." In addition, the group "has booked two upcoming meetings, in September and again in 2018, at the Trump International Hotel down the street from the White House."

At the same time, the story says, NCA "is optimistic about scoring big, early policy wins from the Trump administration. Among the industry’s priorities: a long-sought rollback of government sugar subsidies that candy firms say drive up the costs of making their products." The organization has estimated that "a victory on the sugar issue could save the industry $280 million annually."

While NCA says that it booked the venues before Trump won the presidency and ended up in a position to help its members, the Post writes that "the arrangement illustrates a repercussion of Trump’s decision to retain ownership of his business during his time in the White House — that he can become financially intertwined with a special interest that is simultaneously seeking to influence policy decisions by his administration.

"By holding conferences at the Doral resort and the D.C. hotel, the confectioners group is making payments to businesses that directly benefit the president’s personal fortune at the time the candy group is seeking policy changes in the administration. In addition to the three events taking place during Trump’s presidency, the group also held two conferences last year at Trump properties when he was running for office — a winter gathering in Doral and a September forum at the D.C. hotel."
KC's View:
To be clear, NCA says that it is not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Trump-owned properties as a way of influencing public policy. Which may have been the case going on, when they did not expect Trump to be president, but I have to imagine that they are thrilled about the timing now.

Also to be clear, the White House maintains that the President of the US is excluded from all conflict of influence rules (which is true), and that Trump has handed over all control of the business to his sons (presumably true), and has no interest in the business. My position on this is that all Presidents not only ought to be held to the same conflict of interest rules as everybody else in government, but also ought to be held to a higher moral, ethical and legal standard when it comes to such conflicts. But wishing won't make it so.

I would just point out that while candy manufacturers may hope to be looked on positively by the White House, they also run the risk of offending people at the other end of the political spectrum. So this could come back to bite them down the road ... especially because there is no sign that the Trump presidency is going to get less controversial with the passage of time. And, if the controversies continue and the toxicity of debate increases, the press coverage also is going to continue and perhaps put some of these companies and organizations into an unwanted spotlight.

I pointed out a couple of months ago that I thought the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is courting potential controversies by planning next January's midwinter executive conference for Trump's Doral resort in Florida. Beyond the fact that we don't know how what the nation's political environment will be like a year from now, it also is possible that there will be attendees who will stay elsewhere because of their own political convictions. (There are a lot of food industry people who do not approve of Trump.)

It is all complicated. NCA is getting questions about its lobbying efforts that it might have preferred go unasked, and publicity about its lobbying efforts that it may well not have wanted. The same thing may happen to FMI, and every other company and/or organization that uses a Trump facility in coming years.

They should do what they want. But they need to recognize that their decisions, like elections, have consequences.