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Mar-a-Lago the Southern White House

Posted April. 07, 2017 07:17,   

Updated April. 07, 2017 07:23

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Mar-a-Lago is a fancy estate in Palm Beach, Florida, built by Marjorie Merriweather Post, the heiress to the giant cereal maker Post, who spent 80,000 dollars for the luxury resort in 1927. She passed away in 1973 and left her will to the state government of Florida that the resort may be donated as a summer house for president. The next year, then U.S. President Nixon visited Mar-a-Lago but decided the place was unfit for a getaway house. Annual maintenance cost alone hovered around one million dollars, and the frequent flights to and from the nearby Palm Beach airport impeded security for the president.

For a while, the resort was in possession of the Post Foundation before Donald Trump purchased the estate in 1986 for 10 million dollars to use it as a private getaway house. With the premises spanning 10,00 square meters, the resort offers 126 rooms, pools, golf courses, and a grand ball room. Run on a fixed membership basis (500), the room costs its guests 2,000 dollars a night. Since taking office, Trump flew to Florida every Friday in search of the sunny weather. Since inauguration, the U.S. president has visited Mar-a-Lago to play golf 10 times, the Trump National Golf Club four times, and the Washington Trump International Hotel two times. They all belong to his corporate empire, the Trump Organization.

The resort is dubbed as the “Winter White House” or “the Southern White House”. In February, President Trump invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the resort and finished 27 holes of golf with him, and the recent summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping also took place at Mar-a-Lago. All the concomitant costs to use the luxury resort including the operation of the Air Force One, security detail, or accommodations, are paid off with taxpayers’ money when Camp David, the country retreat for typical American presidents, is only a 30-minute drive away from the White House. It is reported that approximately 20 million dollars has been spent on Mar-a-Lago during the past two months.

The conflict of interests between family business and presidential obligations is stirring controversies in the U.S. While Trump made the announcement that he would hand over the control of his organization to his two sons, it does not change the fact that the profits will end up in the coffers of the Trumps at the end of the day. Following his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Trump gave an office in the West Wing to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is in fashion and jewelry business. Failing to draw a clear line between public duties and family interests, Trump would well have faced impeachment had he been a Korean president.