President Donald Trump raised the membership fee for anyone seeking to join his Palm Beach golf and country club, Mar-a-Lago, just after he was elected. But now, that has turned into a whole new kind of lobbying, as Trump Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” has moved on to Florida.
An Axios report called it “a stunning situation” where the president is profiting off of people paying for a membership so that they can then get close to him and promote their own causes.
“In the popular conception, he’s a Manhattan real estate builder. But in some ways, that’s not really his world. Certainly, not anymore. His world is Palm Beach,” said Jonathan Swan during “Axios on HBO.”
“If you drew a circle around Mar-a-Lago, his private club, there is no more concentrated an area of political influence outside Washington, D.C.”
Some of Trump’s own cabinet officials can get lobbied in Palm Beach. Wilbur Ross owns a 16,000 square foot home, Alex Acosta is from the area, and Ben Carson’s home is in Palm Beach Gardens.
When Trump is in the house, he’s “happy” there. It’s unclear if it’s because he’s worshiped and celebrated by those around him or because he has easier access to blow off work and play golf.
“He is completely relaxed. And that’s when he’s most receptive to ideas,” said Swan.”It’s this weird world where you’ve got him at the dining table people come up and talk to him, and you get an invaluable piece of time with the most powerful person on earth.”
In the first four months of the year, Trump spent 99 out of 470 days (21 percent) of his time in the club. He’s used it to host foreign leaders and treat officials. The night North Korea conducted a missile test, Trump was off crashing a wedding at the club.
Mar-a-Lago has “all the accouterment that make people sometimes describe Trump as a poor person’s idea of a rich person,” Axios chief Mike Allen said. “Gold ceilings and gold lamps and gold floors and fringe. He gets to think of himself as the literal monarch. Everyone is there to pay obeisance to him. And he really doesn’t have to accommodate the press.”