going once, going twice..
The president-elect's son, Eric Trump, is auctioning off an opportunity to "enjoy coffee with Ivanka Trump in NYC or D.C.," with the proceeds going to his foundation, which benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. But some observers and lawyers have raised concerns that the auction essentially allows people to earn access to the Trump administration in exchange for money, The New York Times reports.
"This is just wrong," said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit that tries to curb special interests' influences. "The president's family should not be out raising money for whatever cause, in exchange for a potential influence buyer who wants to get his views to the president." The concerns are magnified due to Ivanka Trump's impending role in the White House.
Currently, high bidders include a London-based investment manager hoping to learn more about Trump's future dealings in countries he invests in; the owner of a Houston-based Tex-Mex restaurant chain who wants to tell Trump, via his daughter, to go easy on restricting immigration; and a real estate executive and "fringe presidential candidate from Florida" who wants to talk about election fraud. Bids Friday morning were around $72,888.
When the Times started asking questions for their article, though, Eric Trump said he was considering shutting down the auction. "We've done this every year," Trump said. "We utilized [auction website] Charitybuzz to raise significant funds. Every single year we've auctioned off a lunch with one of ourselves. It's nothing more than an effort to raise a lot of money in an effort to help sick children."