Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago loses promotion posting on US State Department website
Washington: The State Department has removed its promotional posting about US President Donald Trump's Florida resort, after a storm of ethics criticism. In an 4 April blog post that was republished by several US embassies abroad, Mar-a-Lago was described as 'Trump's Florida estate,' where he has hosted foreign leaders.
"By visiting this 'winter White House,' Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago's original owner and designer," the post said.
Left unsaid: Mar-a-Lago is part of Trump's business empire. After his election, the resort doubled its membership fee to USD 200,000. As president, Trump has visited the property seven times, and its restaurant fills up when he's in town.
The post originated on "Share America," a State Department project. Its website describes its mission as "sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society."
Other topics on the Share America page include a new US coin honoring Frederick Douglass, debate over the Confederate flag and news about first lady Melania Trump's participation in the State Department's International Women of Courage award ceremony.
The Mar-a-Lago post was nearly three weeks old but gained traction Monday when several people noticed the US embassy to the United Kingdom was featuring it. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, asked on Twitter why taxpayers are "promoting the president's private country club" and referred to the incident as "kleptocratic."
Norman Eisen, who was President Barack Obama's chief ethics attorney, said the promotion is "exploitation." Eisen compared it to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's promotion of Ivanka Trump's clothing business, for which she was "counseled" but not otherwise reprimanded by the White House.
Eisen, Painter and other attorneys have sued Trump, alleging violation of the "emoluments clause" of the US Constitution.
That provision says the president may not accept foreign gifts or payments without the consent of Congress. The Trump Organisation argues that this prohibition wasn't intended to cover fair-market exchanges.
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