Trump Family Tried To Auction Coffee With Ivanka, Raising Ethical Concerns
Update at 10:55 a.m. ET: As this post was publishing, the auction for coffee with Ivanka Trump was pulled from the Charitybuzz website. The link now redirects to its home page, with no explanation.
Our previous post continues:
On the auction site Charitybuzz, you could bid $3,500 to have tea with Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York.
If you plunk down $5,000, you might be the top bidder for lunch with actress Julianna Margulies of The Good Wife.
Coffee with one Ivanka Trump, on the other hand, will cost you $77,888 — at least.
The auction for coffee with President-elect Donald Trump's oldest daughter is a fundraiser for the Eric Trump Foundation, which says the proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The New York Times has reported on the auction and raised questions about the ethical implications of selling off face time with the future first family — especially given Ivanka Trump's perceived influence over her father.
The Times spoke with one of the bidders in the auction, investment manager Ozan Ozkural. He told the newspaper he wanted coffee with Ivanka in order to learn about what the president-elect might do in the future — especially in countries where Ozkural invests.
The Times reports:
"Mr. Ozkural is one of several high-profile bidders in a feverish competition to win time with one of Mr. Trump's children. Other bidders include the owner of a Tex-Mex restaurant chain from Houston who wants to press Mr. Trump, through his daughter, about immigration policy, and a real estate executive and fringe presidential candidate from Florida who wants to send a message to Mr. Trump about election fraud.
"Now they may not get a chance to "Enjoy Coffee with Ivanka Trump in NYC or DC" ... Eric Trump told The New York Times on Thursday that he was considering shutting down the bidding — 10 days after it started — about an hour after The Times raised questions about the auction."
Eric Trump told the Times that his foundation auctions off a meal with one of the Trump family members every year, and that it's "nothing more than an effort to raise a lot of money" to help children.
The Charitybuzz site includes several now-closed lots for face time with the Trump family that, based on the source code of each page, appear to have been auctioned off during the presidential campaign. They include an "internship" featuring 15-minute meetings with Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric in the summer of 2016, and the opportunity to "pitch your idea" to both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump sometime during 2017. The listings do not include any information about winning bids. (Updated at 2 p.m. with details on prior lots.)
As NPR has reported, observers and analysts have repeatedly raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest related to the influence President-elect Trump's children might have in his administration — especially given his stated plans to leave his companies under family control, rather than putting them in a blind trust.
Ivanka has been seen as playing a particularly key, and controversial, role as Donald Trump transitions to the White House.
NPR's Jessica Taylor reported on one eyebrow-raising moment last month:
"Trump's daughter, Ivanka, sat in on a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week, raising questions about the mixing of the family's business and politics. There were initial reports that Trump had inquired about security clearance for his children, but the president-elect has denied that. Still, it's clear his children have influence with their father when it comes to politics, and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband, figures to play a potentially prominent role in a Trump White House, formally or informally."
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