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Donald Trump Keeps Initiation Fees At Golf Resorts-Up To $450,000 Per Person

July 8, 2017

It seems Donald Trump voters love when the swamp remains full for their leader.

Whether it’s the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., where the U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship starts Monday; the club outside the nation’s capital, where the president often spends time over the weekend; the historic Mar-a-Lago Club, where he hosted the president of China and the prime minister of Japan; or one of his other exclusive addresses, each collects a hefty initiation fee from new members — up to $450,000 per person, with annual dues on top of that.

Trump has benefited greatly from these initiation fees for years. Even back when it was typical for membership fees to take the form of refundable deposits, he broke with the norm for such clubs by taking the money for himself, according to documents and interviews.

Trump’s decision to retain ownership of his businesses while president, including his nearly 20 clubs across the globe, has been sharply criticized by ethics experts who cite a litany of potential problems: Will the president’s proposals on taxes, environmental rules and labor regulations benefit his bottom line? Are members and their guests gaining unfair access to the president? Is the president violating the Constitution by accepting money from foreign officials? Do local and state leaders feel pressure to make decisions that could favor Trump’s businesses?

“I don’t think we have anything to compare this to in presidential history,” said John Wonderlich, executive director for the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group. “He is refusing to acknowledge that the office is bigger than his business.”

In the more than five months he has been in office, Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago on 25 days and his golf clubs on 36 days, sometimes more than once a day, according to a compilation of information released by the White House.

The visits have led to a flurry of publicity that could boost the clubs’ popularity and revenue, fueling questions among experts as to whether he is using the presidency to make more money.

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