By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – T-Mobile Us Inc’s chief executive, John Legere, and other company leaders have spent $195,000 (148,243.9 pounds) on hotel stays and other expenses at the Trump International Hotel in Washington since the company sought approval for a $26 billion merger with Sprint last April, documents released on Tuesday show.
The company disclosed the expenses in a letter after Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal, both Democrats, sent letters to leaders of the Trump Organization and T-Mobile last month after reports that T-Mobile executives started regularly using the Trump hotel. Photos of Legere, who regularly stays at the hotel, began appearing on social media sites, with him wearing his customary pink T-Mobile-themed attire.
After questions were raised about the Trump hotel stays, Legere posted a photo of himself from another prominent Washington hotel.
The company said in a Feb. 21 letter the $195,000 included costs for “meeting space, catering, business centre services, audio/visual equipment rental, lodging, meals, taxes and other incidental expenses.”
The Democrats said the hotel stays “raise questions about whether T-Mobile is attempting to curry favour with the President, who has not fully divested from his financial interests, via their numerous and expensive stays in the Trump Hotel.”
The Washington Post reported that T-Mobile executives had reserved at least 52 nights at the hotel since the merger announcement, dramatically boosting the company’s use of the hotel.
The company said the Trump hotel expenses were just 14 percent of its total spent at Washington area hotels during that period.
“While we understand that staying at Trump properties might be viewed positively by some and negatively by others, we are confident that the relevant agencies address the questions before them on the merits,” said Anthony Russo, T-Mobile USA’s vice president for federal legislative affairs.
The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are still reviewing the proposed deal to combined the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers.
Trump and Legere feuded publicly in 2015. Legere complained about a street drummer outside a Trump hotel, which prompted Trump to call T Mobile’s service “terrible” in a tweet.
Legere said in his letter to the Democrats that he has stayed at Trump properties in Chicago, New York and Washington and said the Washington hotel “is located close by my company office … and the Department of Justice.”
Last month, nine senators, including Warren, urged regulators to reject the merger.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)