DORAL, Fla. — President Donald Trump flew to his for-profit golf resort Thursday beside the Miami airport, where the Republican National Committee is putting another half-million dollars into his cash registers by holding its second meeting there in two years.
Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, shrugged off the occasional whiffs of mildew and the resort’s location beneath constant jet traffic. “I don’t think anybody thinks about putting money in Trump’s pocket,” he said in the chandeliered lobby. “It’s just part of the overall persona of who Donald Trump is.”
RNC officials did not respond to HuffPost’s queries about how much they are spending to host this three-day meeting. However, a similar meeting in May 2018 ended up costing the party $602,765. The RNC already paid the resort $169,763 on Nov. 6, 2019, in advance of the current meeting. It also paid Doral $84,822 to hold a lunch fundraiser there in June 2019.
RNC members and guests also pay Doral about $1,000 each out of pocket for rooms and food at the higher-than-average-priced restaurants on site.
“It doesn’t bother me,” said Dean Berden, a Trump supporter and husband of Michigan RNC member Kathy Berden. “I’d rather it go to him than some other wealthy person. ... He’s done more for this country than the last five presidents combined. And that includes Ronald Reagan.”
The resort more than doubled its room rates, from $254 to $539, when Trump decided to visit, potentially increasing costs to taxpayers for rooms for Secret Service and other members of the “advance” team that had to arrive a few days ago.
Neither Doral nor the Trump Organization, Trump’s family business that owns and operates his hotels and resorts, would disclose how much they charged government employees for rooms. The White House also would not disclose this information.
Trump spoke to the 168-member group, their guests and Republican Party staff for about 90 minutes before taking Air Force One back to Washington, D.C., where House members were on their second day of presenting their impeachment case against Trump in the Senate chambers.
Trump’s speech was closed to the press and public, with attendees having to give up their cellphones and any other recording devices before entering the room set up for the speech. In previous appearances at fundraisers and political events, some attendees have recorded all or portions of the remarks and given them to reporters — generating stories that Trump and his supporters did not like.
Trump tried to steer a multimillion-dollar government contract to himself to host the Group of Seven economic conference at Doral but backed down after a flood of criticism accusing him of open corruption. Within weeks, the RNC settled on holding its winter meeting there.
While Trump likes to boast that his resort is first-rate, it has suffered financially since he became president while also suffering in comparison to other hotels in the area.
Although the city of Doral is in Miami-Dade County, it is removed from the attractions most people imagine when they think of Miami. The golf resort boasts plenty of ornate chandeliers and baroque fountains — but lies directly beneath the flight path of Miami International Airport’s takeoffs and landings, and is miles from the closest beach.
During the RNC’s meeting there in 2018, the troubled property appeared to be skimping on maintenance costs. At least one of the guest buildings smelled of mildew, as did its guest rooms, while the restaurant on the lower floor in the main lodge had a mustiness tinged with the fraternity house odor of spilled alcohol.
Nearly two years later, at this current RNC meeting, the mustiness appears to remain, at least in some areas. The downstairs restaurant, however, seems to have eliminated the stale beer odor.