The former White House ethics chief is sarcastically proposing a “Golf on Your Own Damn Dime Act of 2019.”
Walter Shaub, who served under President Barack Obama before leaving his post a few months after Donald Trump took office in 2017, pitched the mock law in response to Trump’s record number of golf trips to his own resort properties — even during official trips abroad.
The taxpayer tab for president’s pricey golf outings is now up to nearly $106 million, according to a HuffPost analysis. But what’s unique for a golfing president is that Trump owns the resorts he’s visiting, so the publicly funded trips also serve to finance and advertise his private businesses.
Shaub’s facetious new act would require any POTUS to “pay for all costs” for a golf outing “incurred by the entourage from the minute he/she left the White House until he/she is back inside the White House.”
The tab for Trump’s visit earlier this week to his golf resort in Doonbeg in Ireland — at least $3.6 million — was particularly steep because he brought along a substantial entourage following his official state visit in London. The club used Trump’s stay to try to drum up business for the money-losing operation by tweeting about his visit — something the Trump Organization had pledged would never happen because of ethics concerns. The golf course removed the tweets following questions about them from HuffPost.
Trump used to regularly attack Obama for his golf outings, saying they were expensive for taxpayers and that he was taking too much time off. Trump took to Twitter 27 different times to direct such criticisms at Obama.
Since Trump became president, he has now spent part of 181 days on a golf course — all but two of which have been on his own properties. That’s more than twice the days Obama spent golfing. And except during vacations he took, Obama played almost all of his golf at military bases a short drive from the White House. Those trips cost taxpayers little beyond motorcade gas and some staff overtime.
Upon entering the White House, presidents traditionally divest from their businesses or place their assets in a blind trust because of ethics concerns that the office could be used to benefit a private business. People could also spend large amounts of money at a president-owned business to gain special treatment. Trump has neither divested from his businesses nor placed assets in a blind trust.
“America should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are, and they need to know that financial interests, personal financial interests, aren’t among them,” Shaub said when he resigned from the Trump administration.