The Washington Post reports that a company headed by President-elect Donald Trump has asked the Labor Department for special H2 visas to allow foreign workers entry into the United States to work in its Virginia vineyards. If granted, the visas would be temporary.
According to the request filed with the Department of Labor, the work would be seasonal, beginning in January and ending in April 2017.
Does Request For Foreign Workers Create Conflict Of Interest?
The Post reports that ethics experts from both Democratic and Republican administrations see problems here. Norm Eisen was the chief ethics adviser for the Obama administration during its first two years.
Now a visiting fellow at the Bookings Institution, Eisen told the Post that it was a classic example of conflict of interest. He added:
“This is a powerful example of why Donald Trump needs to make a definitive break, not just with his operational interests but his ownership interests, by appointing an independent trustee to liquidate all that.”
Richard Painter, who was the chief White House ethics attorney for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, told the Post that if the President-elect won’t sell off his interests, he should at least make sure that the decisions whether to grant the visas are made by people who do not political appointees. Once again, the failure of the President-elect to state a conflict of interest policy creates confusion.
Which Trumps Are Involved?
The applicant company, Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC (TVE)., is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Post reported that Donald Trump is president of TVE. This writer could not independently confirm that information. The Trump Winery website states that Eric Trump is the president of Trump Winery, and it was widely reported that The Donald transferred his interest in the winery to Eric.
The Trump Winery website states (at the very bottom) that it is owned and operated by Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC and is not owned, managed by, or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, or any of their affiliates.
On the other hand, the website for the associated hotel, the Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery, is copyrighted by Trump International Hotel Management, LLC.
In other words, the President-elect may not have a direct financial interest in the wine production aspect of the business, and that’s the entity that seeks to hire more temporary foreign workers.
Still, The Donald hasn’t given away his interests in the Trump Hotels entities. Certainly the Albemarle will profit if the winery profits. It may not make much difference to the policymakers in the Department of Labor that Eric’s company, not The Donald’s, makes the request.
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.