- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Vice President-elect Mike Pence will deliver a speech on Tuesday night to a conservative group at Donald Trump’s new Washington D.C. hotel, raising anew conflict of interest questions surrounding the venue.

The Trump International Hotel has come under scrutiny by government ethics experts since the election. They worry foreign governments, lobbyists and others will book rooms and events there to curry favor with the new president.

The Heritage Foundation said Pence will talk about areas of focus for the Trump administration in the first 200 days. The Washington think tank said he will also talk about the conservative movement.

The Heritage Foundation said its decision to use the hotel was driven by space needs.

The Pence speech is the highlight of the group’s annual gathering for its biggest donors. The event is mostly being held at the Ronald Reagan Center across the street from the hotel.

“The space wasn’t large enough and there are security concerns,” said Heritage spokesman Wesley Denton. “It’s just this one speech.”

Trump’s new hotel appears to be doing a brisk business, with reports of foreign envoys booking rooms and foreign embassies planning events there.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts sent a letter to Trump urging him not to accept any money from the Bahraini monarchy for use of his hotel. He cited news reports that Bahrain will hold its National Day celebrations at the hotel on Wednesday.

The Embassy of Bahrain did not reply immediately to an email and phone call about the event.

Since the election, government ethics experts have called for the Trump Organization to sell its interest in the hotel.

Aside from attempts to use the hotel to influence the president elect, they worry about a 60-year lease that his company took out with the U.S. to use the government-owned building that houses the hotel. In addition to an annual rental fee, the Trump Organization has to pay a special payment based on various measures on how well the hotel is doing.

Any disputes over that payment will be handled by the General Service Administration, the federal agency overseeing the property. The head of the GSA will be appointed by the new president.


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