April 6, 2018
Although House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) announced that he would not seek re-election, he still has big plans for his final year of chairmanship — he has pledged to spend it working with President Trump to get a major infrastructure bill passed, and it looks like he is a part of a troubling trend of people wanting to curry favor with the president by patronizing his businesses. CREW found that less than two weeks before meeting with the president on the bill, Shuster’s campaign paid the president’s Washington, D.C. hotel nearly $20,000. Two months after the meeting, a bill was unveiled with presidential support.
While presidents routinely meet with committee chairs to discuss various policy proposals, these meetings don’t typically come 12 days after the president personally profited from the person he’s meeting with.
On December 11th, 2017, Shuster met with President Trump in a “productive” meeting to discuss infrastructure along with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and then Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn. The White House later released a statement that said that it “looks forward to working with Rep. Shuster and his colleagues in Congress to turn this vision into legislation next year.” Twelve days prior to the meeting, Shuster’s committee, Bill Shuster for Congress, paid $19,571.91 to none other than the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. for “event facility rental/catering.” While we can’t say for sure why a retiring Congressman’s re-election committee spent almost $20K at the president’s business, government officials have been spending at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. in a possible effort to curry favor with the president — and the straight-forward timing in Shuster’s case is enough to raise eyebrows.
As we have previously noted, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has become a central hub for Republican political groups seeking to gain influence with the president. Nor is this the first time Shuster and spending issues have raised controversy. Shuster is in a long-term relationship with a “top lobbyist for the leading U.S. airline trade association” which spends millions lobbying his committee.