Mar-a-Lago By the Numbers: An Inside Look at President Trump’s Winter White House
In 1985, Donald Trump bought Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida, A 110,000-square-foot property with 128 rooms, he put his then-wife Ivana Trump in charge of managing it. Today, Trump still keeps private rooms at Mar-a-Lago. In fact, he’s made plenty of trips there since he took office.
Unfortunately, some dark clouds hang over Trump’s “Winter White House.” There has been talk of taxpayers’ money being wasted on his vacations there. There are also concerns about his business interests that follow him there. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes peek at some of the crazy, associated costs for the president visiting Mar-a-Lago — and find out who’s paying for it.
1. Trump spends a lot of time away from the White House
According to Politifact, Donald Trump spent more than half of his weekends in Mar-a-Lago during his first 13 weeks as president. It became somewhat of a joke — a political nonprofit even created the website IsTrumpAtMarALago.org. The website enables users to compare how much Trump’s trips to the Winter White House compare with the cost of providing public services, such as school lunches.
Next: Brace yourself
2. How much does a presidential trip to Mar-a-Lago cost?
“A trip to Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 million, according to a Government Accountability Office report,” the website IsTrumpAtMarALago.org reports. Why is the cost so high? The president travels with several military aircraft, including Air Force One, which transports the president and his entourage. The other aircraft carry motorcade limousines and employees who do security sweeps prior to the president’s arrival. Note: These prices are for aircraft costs alone.
Next: Another cost culprit
3. Air Force One costs a bundle
Air Force One contributes heavily to the cost of presidential travel. This is almost unbelievable, but as of 2012, the Congressional Research Service stated that the aircraft costs $180,000 per hour of flight. It certainly doesn’t take long to rack up a huge bill at that price. Keep in mind that this figure is from 2012, so it has undoubtedly gone up. If you dare, multiply that price by the number of times Trump visits Mar-a-Lago a year.
Next: Safety first
4. Security costs are exorbitant
Beyond flying Trump around, the government also has to pay to protect him when he travels. It also has to foot the bill to protect his family wherever they happen to be. And protecting them costs American taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to ABC, county officials in Palm Beach, Fla., said they spend approximately $60,000 in overtime each day that Trump spends at his Mar-a-Lago resort — just providing protection for the president.
Next: Cities are going broke
5. New York and Florida want their money back
Donald Trump frequently visits New York and Palm Beach, Fla. It’s costing both cities enough — to the tune of millions of dollars to protect the president, his family, and his properties — that officials in both cities are asking for their money back, according to ABC.
In 2017, NYPD commissioner James O’Neal wrote a letter to New York congressmen. He wrote: ” … funding will be critical to ensure New York City can allocate the personnel and resources that are necessary to keep the city and all its residents safe.” O’Neal said it cost $24 million to protect Trump Tower between Election Day and inauguration day.
Next: The cost of membership
6. Trump is making money from Mar-a-Lago
Let’s take a look at how much Trump is making from his for-profit club, even while he’s in the Oval Office. This past New Year’s Eve, Mar-a-Lago members paid $600 — and $750 for each guest — to attend the annual party there. Last year, the event pricing was $500 for members and $575 for guests, so the price went up significantly.
In early 2017, club initiation fees doubled to $200,000 as well. Norman L. Eisen, board chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Washington Post that the new initiation fees could be described only as “naked profiteering.”
Next: By land and by sea
7. The Coast Guard protects the president, too
The Coast Guard also must be on hand to protect the president, and that comes at a steep cost. When Trump visits, it deploys anti-terror specialists, cutters, patrol boats, and helicopters to secure the Palm Beach luxury estate.
Apparently, the Coast Guard had to make sacrifices to guard the president. In particular, it claimed it had to delay some fleet repairs and let some illegal drug shipments go. That’s a very high price to pay.
Next: Trump’s trips are for work?
8. The White House says Trump always works on vacation
According to The Washington Post, Congress allocated approximately $120 million in additional funding for 2017 to offset the Secret Service’s presidential travel and protection costs and “extraordinary law enforcement personnel costs” that local governments might incur during Trump’s trips.
White House officials have defended the costs in the past, saying that they are essential to safeguard the president’s work. White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in February of 2017 that Donald Trump doesn’t really vacation. “He is not vacationing when he goes to Mar-a-Lago,” she said. “The president works nonstop every day of the week, no matter where he is,” said Grisham.
Next: Trump got rejected
9. Palm Beach society didn’t want Donald Trump there in the first place
According to Vanity Fair, Palm Beach society wanted nothing to do with Donald Trump. The town council said no to Trump in 1982 when he first tried to buy the place. Trump had to fight to get Mar-a-Lago. In typical Trumpian fashion, when he offered $25 million for the property and was turned down, he bought the beachfront lot in front of the property for $2 million and threatened to block Mar-a-Lago’s ocean view by building a huge home on it.
At the end of the long battle, Trump got the house and all the furnishings for less than $8 million. When he announced plans to subdivide the 17 acres of Mar-a-Lago, the Preservation Society of Palm Beach threw a fit and rejected his plan after a year of hearings and meetings.
Next: It’s Trump’s party and he’ll stay up late if he wants to.
10. Donald Trump appealed rules about noise and traffic
In 1996, according to Vanity Fair, Trump appealed the town council’s rules about his club regarding keeping noise and traffic to a minimum — rules he had previously agreed to in order to build his club. After many hours of negotiating, the council agreed to drop only three of its rules: an advance reservation requirement to use some of the club’s facilities, a ban on photography at the club, and a demand that Trump put 10% of his club’s room-rental revenues into an estate-restoring fund.
Trump has hosted rock stars, celebrities, and beauty-pageant contestants at Mar-a-Lago. Vic Damone, Billy Joel, Céline Dion, Tony Bennett, and Diana Ross have done shows on the front lawn. Despite the fact that the residential noise ordinance states events have to end at 11 p.m., Trump’s parties have lasted until 2 a.m.
Next: Hire American? Not so much.
11. Donald Trump doesn’t always hire American at Mar-a-Lago
The president has been vocal about hiring American workers, yet he has a history of employing many immigrants at Mar-a-Lago. He recently received approval to hire 70 foreign workers to keep up with the demands at the club, according to The Washington Post. That doesn’t seem to go along with his “buy American, hire American” policy.
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