President Trump is planning to round out the year by once again profiting off his presidency. He’ll be spending New Year’s Eve back at Mar-a-Lago, where tickets for the evening shot up in price 14 percent to $600 for dues-paying members of the club and 30 percent to $750 for their guests.
Last year, Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve party had more than 800 guests.
Bobby Burchfield, the Trump Organization’s outside ethics adviser, told Politico this week that he doesn’t have any concerns about charging people for an event where they have access to Trump. “It’s not a campaign event,” he said. “It’s a normal business New Year’s Eve party.”
A June filing showed that Trump has been cashing in on his presidency, including significant income gains when he visits his own properties. Those countless visits may have spurred him to make more money, but they cost taxpayers a pretty penny. In his first month, Trump spent almost as much on travel as President Obama spent in his entire first year. In March, then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump “feels great” about all his trips and how much they cost.
Trump wasted no time in making money off being president. Mere days after his inauguration, the initiation fee for joining Mar-a-Lago doubled to $200,000, not counting the taxes and $15,000 annual dues — up from $14,000.
That money literally buys access to Trump himself, as Burchfield stated. Members have the opportunity to speak with Trump when he’s there and even advise him on policy decisions. In February, Trump responded to North Korea firing an intermediate-range ballistic missile by holding an impromptu security meeting in view of his guests. Despite this access, the Trump administration for months refused to release Mar-a-Lago’s visitor logs, with the Secret Service insisting that there was “no system for keeping track of Presidential visitors.” In September, the Secret Service instead released a list of 22 names from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s February visit.