Since President Donald Trump took office last January, political groups, trade associations, and foreign interests hoping to stay on his good side have made a point to book their conferences and fundraisers at his Washington, DC, hotel. On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence even got in on the action, bringing in half-a-million dollars for his own PAC—all while padding his boss’s bank account. Explicitly holding fundraisers to personally enrich the president is an otherwise unprecedented move that in the Trump era has become commonplace.
But Trump isn’t the only GOP politician making money off his fellow lawmakers. On Wednesday, the morning after Trump’s state of the union address, Congressional Republicans took a train to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for its annual retreat. Each year Republicans spend a few days together somewhere within a roughly three-hour radius of DC—Colonial Williamsburg; Hershey, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia—to plot strategy and sing songs around the proverbial campfire. Trump will address the meeting on Thursday. This year’s retreat isn’t just anywhere—it’s at the Greenbrier, the mountain resort (with a casino, golf course, and ski resort) owned and operated by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice. Justice, a billionaire coal baron who was elected as a Democrat in 2016, announced he was switching parties last year at a rally with Trump, and Republicans announced the retreat location a few months later.
The Greenbrier’s a nice place for a weekend getaway—it even includes an underground bunker meant to house joint sessions of Congress in the event something happened to Washington, DC. But as with the Trump hotel fundraisers, it’s another case of party leaders making decisions that just so happen to enrich one of their party’s most powerful (and wealthiest) figures. Then again, the emoluments clause doesn’t apply to governors.