A Charity Auction Offering ‘Coffee’ With Ivanka Trump Has Been Canceled After Being Dogged By Ethical Questions

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A charity auction featuring access to Ivanka Trump for the highest bidder has been shut down only ten days after it started. The Eric Trump Foundation was behind the auction that was billed as “coffee with Ivanka Trump in NYC or DC,” an offer that immediately raised some eyebrows for possible ethical issues it posed with the incoming Trump administration. According to the New York Times, many bidders were using the auction as a chance to sit with Trump’s daughter in order to gain insight into the administration’s plans:

Mr. Ozkural wanted to meet with Ms. Trump — who is considering playing an informal role in her father’s administration — to gain insight into topics like President-elect Donald J. Trump’s possible future dealings with Turkey and other nations where Mr. Ozkural invests, he said.

“The nature of my business, we talk to a lot of different governments, a lot of politicians and lawmakers across the world,” Mr. Ozkural said in an interview on Thursday, adding that he recently had a conversation with the president of Argentina. “You end up getting a better sense of what the modus operandi will be.”

When questioned by the New York Times, Eric Trump said that his foundation and the Trump children have “done this every year,” and the proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The problem with the auction is just the latest change and issue that has appeared thanks to Donald Trump win in Election 2016, adding many wrinkles to any possible business dealings and charitable earnings that he and his children may be involved with. To auction off what essentially seems to be access to Ivanka Trump, a person rumored to be a part of the Trump White House in some manner caused trouble with many who pointed out to the New York Times that president and his family shouldn’t be raising money in exchange for influence.

Criticism like this led to the auction being removed after reaching 28 bids, with a high bid of $72,888 according to The New York Times:

All information on the amounts and names of the bidders disappeared from the internet with no notice on Friday afternoon. The winning bidder would have been an organization called Go Hydrogen, although no information could be found about this entity.

The Trump Organization said in a statement that the Trump family had waited to decide what to do about the auction until “our team was aligned on steps moving forward.” The money raised was set to go to the Eric Trump Foundation, run by Ms. Trump’s younger brother, to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

The conflicts raised with this auction were quickly related to criticism launched against Hillary Clinton during the campaign in relation to the Clinton Foundation. The Times points out that while Trump is not scheduled to take a paid role at the White House, her connection to the transition and other highly visible appearances related to her father’s administration to this point strike the same vein for some. Richard Painter, the ethics lawyer for Former President George W. Bush, is one of these people and claims that if Trump is “going to be in the government and a power behind the throne,” then she should follow the same guidelines as other White House employees regarding this sort of fundraising.

(Via The New York Times)