President Donald Trump has traveled to his for-profit resort in Palm Beach, Florida, this weekend, where he will participate in Republican fundraisers that will put hundreds of thousands of dollars into his own cash registers.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago will host a dinner for six-figure donors to the Republican National Committee on Friday evening and a “low dollar” lunch on Sunday, tickets for which cost $2,800, the maximum contribution allowable to a federal candidate for the 2020 election.
“It’s the perfect storm of corruption,” said Robert Weissman, the president of the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen. “This big money fundraiser by the RNC is being held to pursue a corrupt corporate agenda at a property owned by the president of the United States, who is using the highest office in the land to enrich himself.”
The White House did not respond to HuffPost queries regarding Trump’s use of facilities that will put donors’ money into his own pockets. Neither Mar-a-Lago nor the Trump Organization — Trump’s family business, which operates most of his properties — would disclose how much the RNC is paying for use of the facilities this weekend.
For a nearly identical weekend last March, the RNC paid Trump’s resort $224,858, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
“We sold out. There’s no seats left,” one top Republican donor, who is also an informal adviser to Trump, said about the Sunday lunch, on condition of anonymity.
The ballroom at Mar-a-Lago can accommodate at least 700, while some 300 high-dollar donors are expected at the dinner Friday, also at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is scheduled to speak.
About 400 people are expected Saturday for a series of campaign briefings, a lunch appearance by new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a dinner visit from Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, but those events are scheduled for the Four Seasons Hotel a few blocks away.
The adviser said the large donors typically must contribute at least $100,000 annually to get invitations to four such “retreats” each year. “If you’re a groupie who wants to hear Republican politicians speak, it’s a good value,” he said.
The adviser also defended the use of Mar-a-Lago for the spring donors meeting because Palm Beach does not have many places large enough to handle the numbers attending. The only other viable option, he said, was The Breakers, which is even more expensive than Mar-a-Lago.
The patronage by the RNC and other Republican committees and candidates, as well as visits by lobbyists and foreign delegations, are among the few bright spots for Trump properties since his election. His unpopularity has driven away many casual tourists, corporate clients and nonprofit organizations from his resorts and golf courses.
Not even all Republicans are happy about Trump’s use of the RNC to enrich himself and his family.
“While it is hardly unusual for an incumbent president to fundraise with other members of his party, it is unusual that so many otherwise good Republicans are willing to continue to stand with a president who can reasonably be called the most destructive, divisive president in the history of the Republican Party,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who is planning to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential primaries. “I am running in the belief that the American people deserve better.”
The RNC’s use of Mar-a-Lago means it also patronizing a business under investigation by federal authorities. Both the Trump Organization and Trump personally are the subject of probes by the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and special counsel Robert Mueller. They are examining his business dealings, his possible violation of campaign finance laws and his and his campaign’s relationship to the Russian spy agencies that helped him win the election.
The company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has been granted immunity by prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation with investigators. He is also likely to be asked to appear before Congress, now that Democrats control the House and have ramped up investigations of Trump that Republican lawmakers were not interested in.