Two Trump politicals, one Trump Hotel wedding reception
Longtime aide to Pence, senior advisor at Federal Housing Finance Agency celebrated their nuptials in their patron’s Trump Grand Ballroom
A special assistant to Vice President Mike Pence and a senior policy advisor at the Federal Housing Finance Agency—both political appointees of President Donald Trump—held their black-tie wedding reception in the presidential ballroom at the Trump Hotel D.C. on Saturday night.
By hosting this reception, the president’s business received tens of thousands of dollars from two people who serve at his pleasure.
The groom, Zach Bauer is a special assistant to the vice president, according to ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations’ database of the president’s political appointees, Trump Town. Bauer previously worked for Pence in the Indiana governor’s office.
The bride, Meghan Patenaude, joined the administration within days of Trump’s inauguration, per her LinkedIn profile. She was Pence’s director of scheduling until May 2019 when she took an appointment at FHFA.
The reception cost at least $35,000 per 1100 Pennsylvania’s rough-but-conservative estimate (no booze or service charges were included):
Saturday evening, the Trump Hotel D.C.’s executive chef, Oliver Beckert, posted photos on Instagram showing the ballroom configured to seat about 150 guests.
One attendee shared a photo of his place setting, which means the reception probably served plated dinners.
Per the hotel’s 2019 holiday season menu, plated dinners cost $165 a person.
Wedding Wire reports the hotel’s site fee starts at $10,000.
Additionally, guests who booked rooms on the wedding block paid the president’s business at least $375 a night.
Bauer is the son of Gary Bauer, a candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2000. Currently Bauer the Elder “serves as chairman of campaign for Working Families PAC, dedicated to electing conservative candidates to Congress, and as president of American Values, an educational non-profit organization,” according to the latter group’s website.
Patenaude is the daughter of a one-time Trump political appointee, former Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary, Pamela Hughes Patenaude.
Their wedding reception was a return visit for Bauer and Patenaude the Youngers: they celebrated their engagement there last December, Politico Playbook reported at the time
According to their wedding website, the couple met while working for Pence on the campaign.
Three reports describe poor financial results for the Trump Organization
In the past few days, three articles have provided rare insight on the president’s business’s financial performance:
“Trump’s Washington hotel has fallen behind competitors, with rooms running nearly half empty, marketing materials show” by Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post
“Trump Doonbeg records first operating profit since Trumps purchased resort for knock down price”—but it still reported a pre-tax loss of $1.65 million, by The Irish Examiner
“Trump Org. revenue continues to slip” by Aaron Elstein for Crain’s New York
The Post article reports the D.C. hotel’s “occupancy this year has been around 57 percent, compared with 75 percent for competitors” and “the average guest paid about $650 per night.”
That occupancy rate is a good deal higher then the 42.3 percent the Trump Hotel D.C. reported in the first eight months of 2017 (per Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post). Over that period the room rate was about the same too. Obviously expectations change and hotels have many revenue streams beyond rooms (like weddings!). But in 2017 the hotel was “dramatically beating its expectations” while in 2019 it “fall[s] short of the company’s own expectations.”
President plugged his D.C. hotel—whose lease you can buy for a half billion dollars—on Twitter
Sunday morning, President Trump retweeted an imposing picture of the Trump Hotel D.C., originally shared by Trump Org EVP Eric Trump.
The tweet marks at least the fourth time the president has plugged one of his businesses to his more than 60 million Twitter followers. The D.C. hotel, of course, offers something for all price points, from $7 kosher snacks to a $500 million lease.
Private-prison firm executive has put Trump Hotel D.C. bills on his corporate card at least 10 times
From “Private prison exec pursues federal cash, spends at Trump Hotel” by Nick Schwellenbach, Katherine Hawkins, and Adam Zagorin for The Daily Beast [bold added]:
A senior executive of the GEO Group—the nation’s largest private prison and immigrant detention company—who lobbied the Trump administration for a multimillion-dollar cash infusion has also been staying in the luxurious Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., billing an unknown sum to his corporate expense account, according to previously unreported records unearthed by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a non-profit watchdog…
[Senior vice president of business development David J.] Venturella testified that he had charged Trump hotel bills to his GEO credit card on at least 10 occasions. But he has released no further details, leaving unclear how much he spent at the lavish facility only blocks away from the White House and Capitol Hill—the symbolic ground zero for this administration's alleged corruption—and how often Venturella or other company executives stayed in the hotel or other Trump properties on other occasions.
In 2017, GEO Group moved its annual conference to Mar-a-Lago.
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Veterans charity booked Trump Hotel D.C.
Soldier Strong, a charity benefiting veterans who’ve been injured, threw a $250 per person “special event honoring our nation’s heroes” Thursday night at the D.C. hotel owned by the person who oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Thursday’s 1100 Pennsylvania contained the wrong screenshot when describing how a hotel staffer’s LinkedIn page had once called her the director of “diplomatic sales.” The web version of that newsletter has been updated and the correct image—showing “diplomatic sales” in her job description—appears here.
A glimpse of the foreign officials, government employees, politicians, lobbyists, and the like who patronize or appear at Trump businesses. Most people shown here have reasons to want to influence the Trump administration, rely on its good graces for their livelihoods, or should be providing oversight. Additionally, high-profile guests serve as draws for paying customers.
The president’s D.C. hotel profited off people celebrating the owner’s new acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, reported Politico Playbook.
In D.C. to lobby for its pro-business agenda, members of the Terre Haute Indiana Chamber of Commerce bought lunch at the president’s hotel.
The president of lobbying firm the Da Vinci Group, Mark Smith, toasted the ladies. “He has extensive experience in telecommunications, information technology, law enforcement, intellectual property, health care, and privatization issues.”
The Northern Virginia regional field director for the Trump Victory Campaign, Bethany Torstenson, visited the candidate’s hotel.
The Libertarian party’s membership manager, Jess Mears, made friends with Republicans—and the president made money.
A criminal and appellate attorney and radio show host for 93.9 FM in Columbia, Missouri, Jennifer Bukowsky, and an attorney who focuses on “election, regulatory, utility, gaming, tax and other governmental disputes,” Stephanie Bell, exercised their First Amendment rights to patronize the U.S. president’s hotel.
It’s a long story, but Houston Chronicle energy reporter Sergio Chapa ended up at the Trump Hotel D.C.’s bar.
According to the Trump Hotel D.C.’s managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, business was booming in “America’s Living Room” the night of Trump Org. EVP Donald Trump Jr.’s book signing.
Other Trump Organization news
“Secret Service records contradict Trump’s claim on Doral G-7” by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
“RNC to host annual meetingat Trump National Doral” by Kaitlan Collins, Allioe Mallow, and David Wright for CNN
“Trump lawyers take fight over tax returns to Supreme Court” by Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein for Politico
“Federal court sets ‘emergency’ hearing in Trump tax return case” by Jerry Lambe for Law & Crime
“The comically obvious corruption missing from Trump’s impeachment hearings” by Ryan Cooper for The Week
“The emoluments clause and why it matters” by John Sadler The Las Vegas Sun
Trump’s Scottish properties have been marked down reported Martyn McLaughlin of The Scotsman
The War on Christmas claimed TrumpStore.com.
Links to rundowns of developments in the House’s investigations and lawsuits, reference sheets for some of 1100 Pennsylvania’s previous reporting, and articles that provide the background on why all of this matters. The date published or last updated is in parentheses.
House investigations (Nov. 15, 2019)
Lawsuits (Oct. 30, 2019)
Breakdown of judges’ rulings by political party of presidents who nominated them in emoluments, unfair competition, and House committee investigations lawsuits (Nov. 13, 2019)
Health inspections (latest change June 14, 2019)
Notable hotel customers
Foreign governments with representatives spotted at the Trump Hotel D.C.: 29 (Oct. 2, 2019)
Trump cabinet members spotted at the Trump Hotel D.C.: 25 of 33 (Sept. 26, 2019)
U.S. Senators who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: 28 of 53 Republicans, one Democrat (Oct. 22, 2019)
House Judiciary members who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Seven of 17 Republicans, no Democrats (Oct. 17, 2019)
House Intelligence members who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Four of nine Republicans, 0 Democrats (Nov. 8, 2019)
House Oversight members who’ve supported the Trump Hotel D.C.: Six of 17 Republicans, no Democrats (Oct. 17, 2019)
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–CA) found Trump’s hotels competitive only after Trump’s election (Sept. 12, 2019)
Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel D.C: A retrospective (April 30, 2019)
“Power tripping in the swamp: How Trump’s D.C. hotel swallowed Washington
The MAGA social scene is a movable feast, but its dark heart resides within the Old Post Office Building, where the Trump Org operates under a mercenary charter” by your correspondent for Vanity Fair (October 2019)
“Inside the world’s most controversial hotel: The hotel that was expected to take its place among the crown jewels of D.C.’s travel scene has become a magnet for protestors, a West Wing Annex, and—possibly—the center of a constitutional crisis.” by your correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler (May 2018)
Upcoming key dates
Sept. 23 —House Judiciary Committee hearing “Presidential corruption: Emoluments and profiting off the presidency” (postponed, not yet rescheduled)
Nov. 4—House Transportation Committee chair’s subpoena deadline seeking documents related to hotel’s lease (response came a week late and was deemed insufficient)
Nov. 18—Hearing before the U.S. District Court in D.C. on Trump’s emergency application for relief under the All Writs Act in his suit v. the House Ways and Means Committee.
Nov. 22—Oral arguments before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cork wine bar’s unfair competition suit
Dec. 7—D.C. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1’s holiday party at the Trump Hotel D.C.
Dec. 9—Oral arguments before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Democratic lawmakers emoluments suit
Dec. 12—Oral arguments before full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. and Maryland attorneys general’s emoluments suit
Jan. 23—Status hearing with D.C. Superior Court in former hotel employees hearing alleging racial discrimination
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