Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
Donald Trump has spent nearly one-third of his entire time in the presidency doing whatever he can to translate his position into profits for himself.
The campaign to make money out of his position is unprecedented in American history and marks a shift to a crass set of behaviors that debase the office. Throughout 2017, Trump has spent over 100 days at Trump-owned properties, including 40 days at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, and 40 days at his Mar-a-Lago luxury resort in Florida.
In air travel costs alone, Trump’s trips to the Florida resort have cost taxpayers $6 million. Additional costs, like paying for Secret Service and Coast Guard protection, are not included in that figure.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Trump “spends much of his time away from the White House at places that he owns but where other guests pay to stay.” By comparison, other presidents have not spent their off time at venues where they stand to gain financially. George W. Bush went to his ranch in Texas, George H.W. Bush visited the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, and President Barack Obama visited Hawaii on his vacations.
This means that Trump is being ferried back and forth at enormous taxpayer expense, not just to a retreat, but to retreats that benefit from the millions of dollars in free exposure that come with the attention of the presidency — and have allowed him to hike up the fees for visiting those properties.
Trump has even used diplomatic trips, ostensibly while representing the United States on the world stage, to nakedly shill for his personal bank account. While visiting Asia, Trump detoured from his flight path and visited the Trump International Hotel Waikiki. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is a federal employee, hailed the hotel in a taxpayer-funded press release as a “tremendously successful project.”
Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Journal, “George W. Bush went to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, a lot, but it’s not like you could rent the bedroom next to his.”
Thanks to his refusal to put his properties and holdings into either a blind trust or sell them off, the entire episode put money into Trump’s pockets while the government paid for the advertising.
When Trump filed his financial disclosure form in April, it showed that between 2016 and 2017 — including the time he was campaigning for the presidency — he earned $7 million more in revenue from Mar-A-Lago. That was before he spent the next eight months flying down there on Air Force One.
His other properties have tried to take advantage of his presidency as well, most notably by raising their rates like the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has. That hotel — just 0.8 miles from the White House — has also become a hub for influence peddlers to transfer funds to the Trump family while seeking favors from Trump himself.
The Trump businesses have become the beneficiaries of a taxpayer-financed marketing campaign orchestrated by Trump within the presidency. The arrangement is a corrupt series of interlocking financial arrangements, with Trump benefitting to the tune of millions of dollars. He has no shame about what he has done, and seems prepared to do even worse as time goes on.