President Donald Trump's trips to his golf courses aren't just an opportunity for rest and relaxation -- they're also an opportunity for him to rub elbows with corporate lobbyists who pay his clubs millions of dollars in exchange for access to the president.
A USA Today investigation has found that "members of the clubs Trump has visited most often as president — in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia — include at least 50 executives whose companies hold federal contracts and 21 lobbyists and trade group officials." The investigation also found that two-thirds of these lobbyists and executives have "played on one of the 58 days the president was there, according to scores they posted online."
Trump was caught last month golfing with Prime Staffing CEO Mike Fazio after Fazio posted a photo of himself with the president on Instagram. However, USA Today's investigation shows that corporate leaders' access to Trump could be a much broader issue than had been previously reported.
"For the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally," USA Today writes. "It is a view of the president available to few other Americans."
Initiation fees for Trump's golf clubs can be priced at over $100,000, and members have to pay thousands more in annual dues as well.
Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office for Government Ethics, said that this level of pay-for-play through Trump's golf courses is far beyond the bounds of anything we've seen in recent history.
"“I think we’re all in new territory,” he told USA Today. “We never thought we’d see anyone push the outer limits in this way.”