President-elect Trump is embroiled in another conflict of interest scandal, as he attempts to obtain special visas for foreign workers at his vineyard.
On January 20, the “America First” candidate will officially become president, and oversee a United States Department of Labor which he will then ask to grant six special H2 visas for foreign workers at the Trump Vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The official request was filed on December 2, nearly a month after Trump was elected, and six days before Trump announced his pick to head the Department of Labor. According to the application, the workers would be working seasonally pruning grapes between January and June, and would be paid $10.72 an hour to work 40 hours per week.
Pending his senate confirmation, Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. CEO Andrew Puzder, whom Trump appointed to head the agency, will be the one deciding whether or not to grant those visas.
One of President Obama’s first ethics counselors told the Washington Post that the situation is a “classic conflict of interest.”
“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,” said Norm Eisen, who worked in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.
In addition to Eisen’s assessment of the Trump Winery arrangement, Richard Painter, one of George W. Bush’s ethics attorneys, also told the Post that Trump would be in clear violation of longstanding conflict of interest policy if he hasn’t fully divested from his businesses and liquidated the assets before January 20, when he is officially inaugurated.
“It’s critically important that [requests such as Trump’s] be handled by career employees in federal agencies who have civil service protections,” Painter said.
“Anyone appointed by him should be required to recuse themselves. It’s not required by law, but he should do it anyway.”
Who owns and operates the winery is still up for debate, as the President-elect previously said he owned the Charlottesville vineyard “100 percent, no mortgage, no debt” while on the campaign stump earlier this year.
However, according to the Trump Winery website, the vineyard is owned by Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing, LLC, and is “not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization or any of their affiliates.”