November 12, 2019

Chairs DeFazio, Titus Introduce Bill to Require GSA to Conduct Audits on Its Leases with Private Parties, Including the Lease for Trump’s DC Hotel

Washington, DC — Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, Dina Titus (D-NV), introduced new legislation that would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to conduct audits of Federal properties that have been leased to private parties.

According to the “GSA Lease Transparency Act of 2019,” the first audit would be required within 90 days of the law’s enactment; then after that, on an annual basis. The legislation would address the GSA’s failure thus far to adequately track whether the Federal government is receiving all rent, revenues, and anything of value from tenants, including the Trump Organization, which has a 60-year lease with the Federally-owned Old Post Office building in downtown Washington, D.C., redeveloped as the Trump International Hotel. Importantly, the bill also requires GSA to include terms in these leases granting GSA and the GSA Inspector General audit authority.

At a Committee hearing on September 25, 2019, GSA’s Public Buildings Commissioner acknowledged that GSA has not yet conducted an audit of the Trump International Hotel.  Based on the Commissioner’s testimony, it appears the only audited information that GSA has about the hotel are annual audits conducted by a third-party company chosen by the Trump International Hotel.

“It is outrageous that the GSA currently allows certain tenants of Federally-owned buildings, including the Trump Organization, to hire a third-party of their own choosing to verify that they are complying with the terms of their lease,” Chair DeFazio said. “American taxpayers own these buildings, and they have a right to know whether the President, as both landlord and tenant, is providing proper payments to the Federal government, so it’s time GSA took back control of this important oversight function.”

“Renters of government-owned buildings should undergo government audits to remove any doubt about lack of compliance with their lease,” Chair Titus said. “We cannot permit the Trump Organization or any other tenant to obscure their activities in federal properties. American taxpayers deserve better.”

In addition to the Trump International Hotel, an estimated 5-10 leases would be affected by the legislation.

Read the bill text here.

A comprehensive timeline of the Committee’s investigation into this lease can be found here.