Major Republican donor Brint Ryan's firm is underwriting a lecture with Donald Trump Jr. to the tune of $100,000 — just as his firm stands to benefit from the "tax reform" that Donald Trump is championing.
Donald Trump Jr. is being paid $100,000 to give a 30-minute lecture.
The funds to pay Donald Trump’s eldest son come from a firm owned by Brint Ryan, a major Republican donor with a financial interest in the “tax reform” that Congress is discussing.
Trump Jr. will give his lecture on Oct. 24 as part of the Kuehne Speaker Series at the University of North Texas. The website for the event promotes him as “a businessman, and the oldest son of the 45th President of the United States.” For his six-figure payment, he is scheduled to give a lecture, do a 30-minute question and answer session with pre-approved questions, and pose for photos and sit down to breakfast with VIPs.
He will also receive an additional stipend up to $5,000 to go toward lodging, meals, and travel accommodations for the event.
It is unclear what Trump Jr. will tell the students about making it in business. His only business experience is as executive director of his father’s company, the Trump Organization, appearances on his dad’s TV show, “The Apprentice.”
Even his role on his father’s presidential campaign seems to offer few clues as to his business acumen. In that capacity, he gave interviews to white supremacists, and arranged for a meeting between the campaign leadership and a Russian operative offering campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton — a meeting that has now put him in the crosshairs of multiple investigations already probing his father for collusion with Russia.
As Trump’s son, Trump Jr. has his ear, and while he does not have a formal role in the Trump administration like his sister, the commingling of business and public policy interests has been a hallmark of Trump’s short time in office, fueled by his refusal to set up ethical firewalls between his family’s interests and the public.
And Trump Jr.’s lecture being funded by someone with a keen interest in the administration’s tax reform plans fits right in with that pattern.
The “presenting sponsor” for the event is Ryan, LLC, a provider of “strategic tax services” which describes its mission as “Liberating our clients from the burden of being overtaxed, freeing their capital to invest, grow, and thrive.”
The chairman and CEO of the company is Brint Ryan, who is also the chairman of the university’s board of regents. Ryan is a major Republican donor, who once spent over $1 million in a losing effort to win himself a seat on the Dallas City Council. He has been described by Texas Monthly as one of the people who “runs Texas.”
Ryan donated $250,000 to the “Make Us Great Again” Super PAC, which backed Rick Perry’s ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign, and was the national finance chair of the Opportunity and Freedom Super PAC that backed Perry in 2016. Ryan also backed Ted Cruz’s campaign after Perry dropped out.
He was also a major donor for Perry’s campaign when he ran for governor in Texas, then benefitted when companies leveraged his relationship with Perry while pursuing special provisions in Texas’ tax code.
Ryan has been a sponsor of ALEC, the group put together by the billionaire Koch brothers to influence state and national laws with an eye toward growing corporate profits, often at the expense of the environment or the public good.
After those experiences, Ryan moved on to be a supporter of Trump, along with the bulk of major Republican donors and funders. Politico described Ryan as part of Trump’s “kitchen cabinet” during the campaign and said he leaned on him for advice on tax policy.
And he has proven a stalwart defender. After the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was released, Ryan said he would stick with Trump because he considered “Hillary Clinton to be at least as morally repugnant if not more.”
Trump recently began his push for “tax reform,” in which he proposes that corporations and high-income individuals get their rates cut, replicating the disastrous formula that Kansas Republicans enacted that has bankrupted the state and caused enormous suffering for its citizens.
That policy, however, is right up Ryan’s alley, and he has every incentive to curry favor with the Trump clan, perhaps with an eye toward replicating the windfall he engineered in Texas with Perry.
Ryan recently told the Dallas Business Journal that his firm expects to bring in $500 million in revenue this year, with a goal of $1 billion by the end of the decade. He also told the paper that he saw tax reform initiatives, like the one Donald Trump recently spoke about, as an area his company could use to fuel future growth.
He said tax reform is “good for the country and will ultimately grow the revenue base.”
Passing legislation in line with the loose guidelines Trump has spoken about — he has yet to give any specifics — would assist Ryan’s bottom line and move his firm towards his billion-dollar goals.
Seen in that light, paying Donald Trump Jr. to give a speech seems like a good investment for a long-term goal.