It is no secret that Mr. Trump knows how to waste taxpayer money well. His continuous jaunts to Mar-a-Lago and golf clubs, and the cost of Secret Service agents to accompany him have accumulated well beyond the cost for previous presidents.
According to The Washington Post, Trump’s company charges the Secret Service for the rooms agents use while protecting him at his own properties, as high as $650 per night according to federal records and people who have seen receipts.
The Post reported:
‘Those charges, compiled here for the first time, show that Trump has an unprecedented – and largely hidden – business relationship with his own government. When Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., the service needs space to post guards and store equipment.’
Although Trump’s company says it charges only minimal fees, Secret Service records do not support that. According to The Post:
‘At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the Secret Service was charged the $650 rate dozens of times in 2017, and a different rate, $396.15, dozens more times in 2018, according to documents from Trump’s visits.’
The Secret Service was charged $17,000 to use a three-bedroom cottage on the property, which is unusually high rent for that area. Trump’s company also billed the government for days when he wasn’t there.
Contrary to actual records, Trump’s son Eric Trump said in a Yahoo Finance interview last year:
‘If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free – meaning, like, cost for housekeeping.’
The Washington Post reported:
‘The full extent of the Secret Service’s payments to Trump’s company is not known. The Secret Service has not listed them in public databases of federal spending, as is usually required for payments over $10,000.’
Documents typically come put piecemeal through public records requests from news organizations and watchdog groups. The Washington Post was able to compile available records which showed 103 payments from the Secret Service to Trump’s company dated between January 2017 and April 2018.
The Post reported:
‘The records show more than $471,000 in payments from taxpayers to Trump’s companies. But — because these records cover only a fraction of Trump’s travel during a fraction of his term — the actual total is likely to be higher.’
Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said:
‘It is more than a little disconcerting, knowing this is going on, and not knowing what the actual numbers are. That’s kind of crazy that we know the president is benefitting from the presidency, and we do not know how. We do not know how many taxpayer dollars are in his pocket.’
There was no response from the White House in response to these payments.
The Secret Service said in a statement that it’s spending:
‘balances operational security with judicious allocation of resources.’
According to The Post:
‘By law, Secret Service agents are exempt from the government’s usual per diem spending limits while they are protecting the president.’
Trump still owns his company, and a company spokesperson said Mar-a-Lago does not charge the Secret Service $650 per room but didn’t address whether it had charged that rate in the past.
Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump said:
‘We provide the rooms at cost and could make far more money renting them to members or guests.’