State Department promotion of Trump's Mar-a-Lago draws fire

Posted April 25, 2017

The article included photos of the lavish property and a January tweet from Trump referring to the estate as the winter White House. Before Trump became president, the initial cost of a membership was $100,000.

The article was replaced with a statement that says "the intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders".

The State Department has not responded to requests for comment on the issue. "We regret any misperception and have removed the post". But it seems like the State Department does, too - and State Department promotion of the private resort would appear to be a flagrant violation of US law prohibiting the use of a public office for private gain, specifically the appearance of government sanction or endorsement.

"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.

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But what it doesn't mention is that Mar-a-Lago is perhaps the most obvious vehicle Trump is using to profit off the presidency.

A State Department website that promotes travel to the United States included an article this month about the history and lavish furnishings of President Donald Trump's privately-owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, opening questions about whether the federal government is improperly promoting Trump's moneymaking enterprises.

It later lauds the resort itself, saying that builder Marjorie Merriweather Post "spared no expense" for it. "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.

The blog entry, which was posted earlier this month, stems from an earlier post by Share America, a State Department site that aims to share "compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics" with foreign governments and U.S. embassies.

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Mar-a-Lago has been a lightning rod for those accusing the Trump administration of conflicts of interest. He and the foreign leaders he hosted were never placed in compromising situations where they had to handle a foreign crisis in full view of diners, as Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe did in February.

But Bush's ranch wasn't a private club.

Eisen also put the State Department's promotion of Mar-a-Lago in the broader context of a White House that doesn't seem to care about problems created by using government platforms to promote private financial interests.

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