U.S. taxpayers have paid more than $2.5 million to Mar-a-Lago and other businesses owned by President Donald Trump since 2017, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, the most extensive analysis to date of how the Trump administration and campaign have become reliable paying customers for the president’s expansive — and reportedly ailing — businesses.
The $2.5 million figure includes hotel rooms, function spaces, food, alcohol, and floral arrangements purchased by the federal government for official functions hosted at Trump-owned hotels and resorts, the Post found after reviewing government documents.
The president’s clubs often charged high prices for their services, billing the government $7,700 for a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s staff, $17,000 a month for a cottage at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster used by the Secret Service, and even $3 for glasses of water for Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Some government staffers were frustrated by these visits, privately arguing that Trump’s expensive hotels were impractical and less private than other venues, the Post reported.
Since 2017, Trump’s reelection campaign has also spent $5.6 million in donors’ money for fundraisers hosted at Trump’s private clubs, office space in Trump Tower, and other expenses, even though the campaign is reportedly low on cash.
The Trump campaign and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The White House called the Post’s reporting a “hit piece,” but it did not deny any of the story’s specific claims. “President Trump turned over the day-to-day responsibilities of the business before he took office and any suggestion that the President has used his own official travel or the federal government as a way to profit off of taxpayers is an absolute disgrace and lie,” spokesperson Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told Forbes in a statement.
378. That’s the total number of days Trump has spent at his own properties since the start of his term, including both personal and official visits, according to data from NBC News.
Trump’s habit of traveling to his own resorts as president is well-documented. Despite promising during the 2016 campaign to keep his business interests separate from his presidential responsibilities — and castigating predecessor Barack Obama for vacationing too frequently — he has reportedly visited his own hotels and country clubs hundreds of times since his inauguration. The Trump Organization often does not give the government a discount when its properties are used for official business, turning the visits into a sizable revenue stream. Experts say this practice is highly unusual and possibly unethical, though not necessarily illegal.
“The safeguards that kept the president from using the presidency to benefit themselves were mostly followed as kind of an honor system,” reporter David Farenthold, who co-wrote the Post’s story, told NPR’s Terry Gross last year. “And it takes everybody else … a while to figure out what’s going on because they’re so used to people following it.”