SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced AB 2020, which would prohibit taxpayers from funding or reimbursing state employees’ travel and lodging expenses at businesses owned by current or former Presidents of the United States.
The Domestic Emolument Clause (Article II, Section 1, Clause 7) prohibits the President from receiving any compensation from federal or state governments other than their salary. However, President Donald Trump has reportedly made millions of dollars from his hotel properties since taking office.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported last August on President Trump’s unprecedented conflicts of interest. These conflicts include 630 visits to Trump properties by at least 250 administration officials, 188 visits to Trump properties by 90 Members of Congress, and 64 trips to Trump properties by 47 state officials. Additionally, political groups have hosted 63 events and spent nearly $6 million at Trump properties, further funding the President’s personal businesses.
“Public officials, at any level, should not profit off the constituents that they were elected to serve and represent,” said Assemblymember Low. “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.”
In September of 2019, U.S. Senator Gary Peters introduced the Heightened Oversight of Travel, Eating, and Lodging (HOTEL) Act which would ban taxpayer funds from being spent on federal employee lodging at any properties owned by the President, Vice President, or the head of an executive branch agency. The HOTEL Act is supported by 38 co-sponsors, including California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.
AB 2020 mirrors the federal HOTEL Act’s goal of protecting taxpayers by extending those same restrictions to state employees in California.