President Donald Trump’s visit to yet another of his golf resorts Wednesday likely cost taxpayers at least another $1.1 million, bringing his total golf tab to $106.9 million.
Trump arrived at Trump National Doral near the Miami airport late Tuesday following a rally in Orlando and left Wednesday afternoon after a high-dollar fundraiser that was expected to bring in several million dollars to the Republican National Committee and his reelection campaign.
The White House would not say whether he played golf Wednesday morning, but an informal adviser to Trump told HuffPost that Trump was likely to play a round before the noon fundraiser.
The White House almost never acknowledges that Trump has played golf following one of his golf course visits. The only exceptions have been when Trump has played with someone famous or with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Wednesday brought Trump’s total number of days on a golf course to 186 in his first 881 days in office, all but of two of which have been at one of his own properties. (Trump has played twice during trips to Japan at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.) Doral is the eighth of his courses he has visited on the taxpayer dime.
The Miami leg of the trip added at least $1.1 million in additional travel costs for taxpayers, according to a HuffPost analysis. That includes additional flight costs of Air Force One and the expenses involved flying in a set of his motorcade vehicles and setting up necessary security and communications in a second city.
Because this was a political trip ― as opposed to Trump’s $3.6 million Ireland golf vacation, which was technically an official visit after he arranged a brief airport meeting with that country’s prime minister ― the Trump campaign and RNC will be responsible for reimbursing the U.S. Treasury for a small portion of that $1.1 million.
What that portion is exactly is unclear.
How the White House determines that figure was among the questions Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden asked last October, after Trump began routinely campaigning for Republican congressional candidates at “official” events that are supposed to be nonpolitical. Wyden set a Nov. 7, 2018, deadline to receive the information, but as of Wednesday still has not gotten a response.
Federal Election Commission guidelines require that the Treasury be reimbursed for the use of the presidential plane, but at a rate far lower than the actual cost of flying the modified 747 that serves as the primary Air Force One. The FEC rules say the campaign must repay what it would have cost to charter a plane, but that the comparison plane need not be large enough to accommodate the dozens of Secret Service agents and military aides who are required to be with a president at all times.
In other words, while Air Force One costs taxpayers $273,000 an hour to fly, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, the campaign only has to pay back what a plane large enough to carry Trump and his traveling campaign staff would have required.
On the trip to his rally in Orlando and his golf resort in Doral, for example, the use of Air Force One for the five hours of total flight time cost taxpayers $1.4 million. But the rules allow the Trump campaign to reimburse the Treasury as little as a few tens of thousands of dollars.
Trump’s Doral golf course has already been paid a deposit of $84,822 by the RNC to host the lunch event, and will likely receive at least that much afterward. A portion of those payments flow to Trump personally, after he reneged on a promise to separate himself from his businesses in the event he got elected.