The contract, reported Friday by The Washington Post, appeared this week in federal expense documents.
News of the expenditure follows revelations in the Post that the U.S. government has paid nearly $1 million to Trump businesses for room rental since he became president, largely for the Secret Service. Taxpayers have now paid for the equivalent of more than four years’ worth of nightly rentals at Trump properties, according to the Post, in what the newspaper termed an “unprecedented” business relationship between a president and the government he runs.
Trump, unlike other presidents, refused to divest from his businesses when he became commander in chief. That has raised ethical issues as Trump weighs what’s good for his wallet against what’s good for the public. Last week, as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 neared 80,000, Trump touted a tweet from his golf course in Los Angeles, which urged people to reserve their tee times even amid the pandemic.
The Bedminster golf cart rental fees aren’t going into Trump’s pockets. The carts are being rented from a private vendor, Associates Golf Car Service, which is based in New York, according to the expense documents. The same vendor has supplied golf carts to the Secret Service at Bedminster each year Trump has been in office, the Post noted.
But the Secret Service typically rents space directly from Trump’s company, paying $17,000 per month for a four-room cottage at the Bedminster club, near a detached cottage where Trump stays.
The golf cart rental deal took effect Tuesday and runs through the end of October, according to the documents.
Trump’s frequents golf trips were suspended in early March due to COVID-19 restrictions. But as of mid-February, Trump had played golf 248 times at his resorts at a cost to taxpayers of $133.8 million, according to an analysis by HuffPost.
As did many other businesses in New Jersey, Trump’s Bedminster club had to close for about six weeks under restrictions imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) because of COVID-19. Only the golf course was allowed to reopen May 2 when outdoor activities were again allowed in the state.