02.03.17

Senators to Trump: Show Us Who Is Buying Access to the ‘Winter White House’

After the Trumps doubled club dues, Senators Whitehouse and Udall write to Trump asking who is ponying up $200,000 for Mar-a-Lago membership

Washington, DC – The Trump Organization’s Mar-a-Lago club has doubled its membership fees on the eve of the President Trump’s first visit to what the administration calls the nation’s “Winter White House.”  Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Tom Udall (D-NM) want to know who is paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary for unlimited access to the newly christened executive mansion in Palm Beach.  They sent a letter to President Trump today to ask.

“At $200,000, the Mar-a-Lago membership fee is financially out of reach for all but the wealthiest Americans and international elites,” write Whitehouse and Udall.  “These aren’t the hardworking Americans you’ve long said have been ‘forgotten’ and need to be heard once again in Washington.  Mar-a-Lago members are the same class of ultra-rich that you’ve nominated to your Cabinet and surrounded yourself with at the White House.  Your Winter White House will provide an audience with you for those who can afford it, not to mention an increasing cash-flow into your family-run organization.  Instead of draining the swamp, it appears you’re bringing Washington right to the swamps at Mar-a-Lago.”

President Donald Trump’s visit to Mar-a-Lago this weekend will cost the taxpayers about $3 million, according to reports out today, but the bigger questions are who is getting private access to the President and do Americans have the right to know. 

Full text of the letter is below.  A PDF copy is available here.

February 3, 2017

Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump:

Recent press reports indicate that the membership fee at the Trump Organization’s Mar-a-Lago Club has doubled to $200,000.  Presumably demand for memberships has increased dramatically since you were elected President with the expectation that a membership at your Club will offer special access to you when you are there.  Indeed, as of today, the “Private Membership” page on the Mar-a-Lago Club website still refers to it “Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club,” and you are renowned as being a gracious, and present, host for all Club guests. 

At $200,000, the Mar-a-Lago membership fee is financially out of reach for all but the wealthiest Americans and international elites.  These aren’t the hardworking Americans you’ve long said have been “forgotten” and need to be heard once again in Washington.  Mar-a-Lago members are the same class of ultra-rich that you’ve nominated to your Cabinet and surrounded yourself with at the White House.  Your Winter White House will provide an audience with you for those who can afford it, not to mention an increasing cash-flow into your family-run organization.  Instead of draining the swamp, it appears you’re bringing Washington right to the swamps at Mar-a-Lago.

You can dispel any notion that Mar-a-Lago is a private refuge for pay-to-play politics by doing the following:

  • Make public the Mar-a-Lago membership list 
  • Make public the names of members and other visitors to Mar-a-Lago who are there when you are in residence
  • Explain what you are doing to screen Mar-a-Lago members to ensure none present security risks to you
  • Explain what you are doing to screen Mar-a-Lago members to determine whether any have ties to foreign governments or other entities that seek to influence you or United States policy

Now that you are President, you have an obligation to dispel any suspicions that access to you can be purchased by a private club membership fee.  Making these records public and transparent, and vetting people who have access to you, are straightforward steps that all Americans can support.  

                                                 Sincerely,

###