Ethics Expert: “It has elements of ‘pay to play’ where you pay fealty to the head of the party.”
*** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ***
A new deep dive into Herschel Walker’s campaign finance disclosure reports from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals that Walker has dropped “close to $200,000 to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club,” which an ethics expert notes has “elements of ‘pay to play’ where you pay fealty to the head of the party.”
The report also found that the Walker campaign has been paying for rooms at hotels owned by Sotherly Hotels—a real estate investment trust where Walker sits on the board—and it’s unclear as of yet whether they paid below market value. See for yourself:
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By Shannon McCaffrey
August 3, 2022
- A review of Herschel Walker’s campaign finance disclosure reports turned up a few interesting tidbits.
- Among them: The Republican Senate nominee has shelled out close to $200,000 to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.
- Walker paid $64,152 in April for a golf fundraiser there.
- That comes on top of the $135,314 the Walker campaign spent for catering and use of the former president’s Palm Beach, Florida venue in December 2021.
- It’s also notable that the Walker campaign spent more than $5,600 to rent rooms and venues at the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta and the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah.
- Both are owned by Sotherly Hotels, our AJC colleague Shannon McCaffrey reports.
- Walker sits on the board of Williamsburg, Va.-based Sotherly, a real estate investment trust and he earned $13,625 as a board director, records show.
- Robert Maguire, research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told McCaffrey it is legal for a candidate to pay a company he has a financial interest in as long as they are paying market value.
- Walker hosted his GOP primary night victory party at the Georgian Terrace and paid $3,566, the finance disclosure showed. The Georgian Terrace’s website did not list a price for event space rental. A phone call to the hotel was not returned.
- While the cost for room rentals at the DeSoto seemed roughly in line with the rates posted online, the campaign reported $50 apiece for lodging at the Georgian Terrace. That’s well below the cheapest $184 rate for a “petite” room the AJC found online.
- But Maguire said the use, by Walker and other Republican candidates, of Mar-a-Lago raises other questions.
- “This is a new phenomenon where you have candidates intentionally spending large amounts of money in order to curry favor with the standard bearer of the party,” Maguire said.
- “It has elements of ‘pay to play’ where you pay fealty to the head of the party.”