Never thought that little old you could afford a night at Donald Trump’s overpriced Mar-a-Lago Resort? Well, congratulations, you already have. How do we know? Easy! We looked at the receipt.
Apparently, it turns out that the American taxpayers wrote a $1,092 check for Trump’s entourage to spend the night at his tacky hotel. The charge was based on a per-night price of $546 for Trump’s White House entourage to stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort in early March.
The Washington Post reports that the receipt in question was obtained from the Coast Guard by the transparency advocacy group Property of the People under a broader Freedom of Information Act request. The Coast Guard FOIA office explained that they found the invoice while searching through records of the agency’s credit card payments.
As the Washington Post explains, the receipt “offers one of the first concrete signs that Trump’s use of Mar-a-Lago as the ‘Winter White House’ has resulted in taxpayer funds flowing directly into the coffers of his private business.”
Although the receipt is for a one-time stay, you can bet your bottom dollar that this was not a one-time occurrence. Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago seven times since he was sworn into office and each time he has been accompanied by a slew of secret service agents and White House staffers. To be sure, Trump and his greedy pockets weren’t letting them shack up in his hotel for free. We know he wouldn’t allow the Secret Service to stay in Trump tower for free.
The only time Trump has claimed to have taken one for the team and covered the cost of a room for one of his presidential escapades was when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited in February.
During his visit to the Palm Beach resort on March 3 and 4, Trump was joined by a long list of people, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then-chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who is now Trump’s chief of staff. And from the looks of it, taxpayers are responsible for paying that hefty bill.
Kathleen Clark, a Washington University law professor who specializes in ethics issues, slammed the Trump administration for choosing the luxury accommodations of Mar-a-Lago over something more affordable, like a Holiday Inn.
“The choice to stay there and have the government pay the $546-a-night rate seems imprudent,” she said. “If it were not owned by the president, it would still seem problematic. The fact that it’s owned by the president makes it doubly problematic.”
A lawsuit is already underway regarding Trump’s blatant disregard for the federal emoluments clause. The suit is scheduled to be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York next month.
“The fact that government officials would spend tax dollars at the president’s property raises serious constitutional questions under the domestic emoluments clause,” said Brianne Gorod, chief counsel with the Constitutional Accountability Center.
Jed Shugerman, a Fordham University law professor, said that the founding fathers did not give us a clear answer to this particular question.
“You have to make a leap from what was on the page in the 18th century to what is meant in the 21st century,” he said. “History answers some of these questions more clearly than others. History does not clearly answer this question.”
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons