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Congressional Republicans to attend retreat at The Greenbrier

By JAKE ZUCKERMAN

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. House and Senate Republicans are scheduled to attend a legislative retreat at The Greenbrier resort, owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, in January.

GOP lawmakers in Washington received a save-the-date notice for Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 for a legislative retreat at the White Sulphur Springs complex. (File photo)

GOP lawmakers received a save-the-date notice for Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 at the White Sulphur Springs complex. Politico first reported on the retreat Tuesday morning, saying President Donald Trump is expected to attend as well. A House GOP aide confirmed the Politico report.

Citing security concerns, White House spokesman Tyler Ross said he could not comment on Trump’s travel plans two months out.
Jessica Towhey, a spokeswoman for the Congressional Institute, which is holding the event, would not say if Trump would attend, and would not discuss any parts of the agenda or potential speakers.

Mark Strand, president of the Congressional Institute, said in an email that at last year’s conference in Philadelphia, 44 U.S. senators and more than 200 U.S. House members attended. Speakers included Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Strand said the conference is closed to the public and the media.

Communications staff for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. Evan Jenkins confirmed the lawmakers would be attending. Staffers for Reps. Alex Mooney and David McKinley said nothing has been finalized, but they typically attend such events.

Butch Antolini, a spokesman for Gov. Justice, did not return emailed inquiries for this article, including whether Justice would attend the retreat, or whether he has made any progress moving his ownership of the resort into a blind trust.

Justice said in January he would put his assets into a blind trust arrangement. However, no evidence of progress on this front has been shared with the public.

The intersection of the resort and official government business has caused a stir in the past. In August, the West Virginia Ethics Commission considered requests from the state Development Office to attend the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 81st annual Meeting and Business Summit at the resort.

The commission ruled that while the employees could use state funds to pay to attend the summit, they could not use them for food and lodging on site, citing Justice’s continued ownership. The commission also denied a broader, carte blanche request from the office and the Division of Tourism to attend such events in the future.

State law says no public official can make the government a party to his or her own private business.

A spokesman for the resort declined to comment.

The last time Justice and Trump appeared together publicly, Trump yielded his podiumto the governor at a crowded Huntington rally so Justice could announce his party switch from Democratic to Republican.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at [email protected], 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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