Published: Tue, April 25, 2017
Research | By Elizabeth Houston

State Department Website Features Trump's For-Profit Club, Mar-A-Lago

State Department Website Features Trump's For-Profit Club, Mar-A-Lago

Before Trump became president, the initial cost of a membership was $100,000.

In an April 4 blog post that has been republished by several USA embassies overseas, Mar-a-Lago is described as "Trump's Florida estate", where he has hosted foreign leaders.

The State Department didn't respond to a request for comment Monday.

Jordan Libowitz of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the post "reads nearly like an ad for Mar-a-Lago".

"After refurbishing the house and adding an events space, Trump opened the estate to dues-paying members of the public in 1995 as the Mar-a-Lago Club", the State Department item reads.

Package deal! Three nights in a suite at Mar-a-Lago and what's left of America's dignity.

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The U.S. State Department is using an official website to showcase President Donald Trump's private club, Mar-a-Lago, calling it the "Winter White House".

However, the President's critics and government ethics experts have slammed the use of the state department website for such publicity. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are asking questions about Trump's conflicts of interest and threatening investigations into the president's conflicts.

"This is outrageous, more exploitation of public office for Trump's personal gain", Eisen said. The blog was originally published on Share America, the Department of State's "platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education and the role of civil society".

The ShareAmerica.gov posting describes the ornate décor of the 114-room mansion, which was built in 1927 by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Shortly after he took office, Mar-a-Lago membership fees doubled to $200,000. "Using the government's megaphone to promote Mar-a-Lago" is like when Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide, urged people during a television interview to buy Ivanka Trump's clothing line. Trump bought the estate four years later.

But Bush's ranch wasn't a private club. Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago seven out of the first 12 full weekends after his inauguration, and mingled with members on numerous occasions.

He has entertained foreign dignitaries - including Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - but he has also spent considerable time on the golf course, including at his nearby Trump International Golf Club. In 1973, Post donated the property to the government with the hopes it would be used as the "winter White House" for future presidents.

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