Day 31: Trump Profiteering From Taxpayers Likely Exceeds $150,000 Since Inauguration
The number is likely well over $250,000 since Election Day
Barack Obama was president for 2,922 days. His vacations cost taxpayers approximately $90 million.
Donald Trump has been president for 31 days. His vacations have thus far cost taxpayers approximately $10 million.
In other words, time-adjusted, Trump is outspending Obama 11 to 1 in vacation dollars.
Not included in these figures is the $7 million trip Trump took over Thanksgiving after the election but before Inauguration Day.
Trump has been to Mar-a-Lago, the private club he owns in South Florida, three straight weekends. He’s been president for a total of four weekends, the first of which were full of galas in the White House. Every weekend Trump could have fled Washington D.C., he has.
As we previously profiled, Trump is profiting off of these trips.
When Trump stays at Mar-a-Lago, Secret Service and other staff members need to be very close by. This means that they will be staying at the high-end resort too. Since they are not staying there for free — they will be paying full rate — Mar-a-Lago is collecting a substantial windfall every time the president takes a vacation there.
Who owns Mar-a-Lago? Donald Trump, of course.
So who is profiting every time Donald Trump goes on vacation? Donald Trump, of course.
If Trump goes anywhere in the world and stays at his properties — and remember, he brags about owning premier properties worldwide — Secret Service and staff will be forced to stay there as well. That will enable Donald Trump to profit even more.
It’s unlikely that Trump will stay at any property without his name on it, whenever possible. So it’s not only possible, but entirely probable, that Donald Trump properties — and in turn, Donald Trump — will collect tens of millions of dollars in profits merely from the president going on vacation.
The same goes when Trump’s children travel. Eric Trump recently took a two-day trip to Uruguay which cost taxpayers nearly $100,000. (The first family is afforded Secret Service protection as well.) The nature of the trip? Drumming up more business for the Trump Organization.
Every time anyone in the first family travels and stays at a Trump property, Donald Trump profits at the taxpayers’ expense.
But how much is Trump profiting?
At the aforementioned Thanksgiving trip, Trump was flanked by 150 Secret Service agents. (In addition, Trump is traveling with upper and lower level staff who require accommodations as well.)
Considering Mar-a-Lago is a private entity, we may not know exactly what Trump is charging the government to stay at the property until FOIA requests are answered, but it’s safe to say the price tag is exorbitant.
Let’s use the Obamas’ 2015 Hawaiian vacation as a base to estimate costs.
Lodging for that trip cost $1 million over 19 nights (with Secret Service arriving a few days before Obama did). These figures are bolstered by similar numbers on a short Obama trip to Illinois in 2013. The numbers for Eric Trump’s travel to Uruguay with a contingent of Secret Service agents was nearly this high as well, and remember, he is traveling with far fewer agents.
We can safely say that — based on precedent — when the president travels, lodging costs somewhere around $50,000 per day, if not more.
Assuming Secret Service is arriving at Mar-a-Lago at least a day early, many agents are staying at the property for three or four days at a time.
Calculating exact gross profit margin on individual hotel rooms is a difficult endeavor even seeing internal figures, but is even more arduous without seeing their internal figures. Research indicates that gross profit margins are likely 30 percent to over 50 percent. Higher end items have higher margins: the cost to clean and change the sheets or dust the curtains is going to be relatively similar regardless of the price to rent the room or the price of the fixtures.
Let’s assume that Mar-a-Lago is seeing gross profit margins around that 50 percent mark. Much of their would-be expenses, such as advertising, are largely moot because Mar-a-Lago is a private club. They aren’t advertising their rooms because a member of the public is not welcome to stay there.
So while the Holiday Inn may have gross margins in the neighborhood of 40 percent, their net is substantially lower considering their higher costs.
Still, conservatively, we can figure that Mar-a-Lago’s net profit is 40 percent.
Remember the $50,000 in lodging costs per day for the Secret Service? During the Obamas’ 2015 Hawaiian vacation, 67 percent of the money was spent at one hotel — presumably where the Obamas were staying. So let’s use that same 67 percent of lodging revenue as allocated to Mar-a-Lago.
Basic math says $50,000 per day in total Secret Service lodging revenue x 67 percent allocated to Mar-a-Lago= $33,500 per day in gross revenue to Mar-a-Lago just from renting rooms to Secret Service.
At 40 percent net profit, Mar-a-Lago — and, thus, Donald Trump — clears $13,400 per day, just from lodging the Secret Service. (Again, we still aren’t including traveling staff members.)
But lodging is far from the only revenue stream available to Mar-a-Lago when Trump is in town.
If government employees eat or drink on the property and properly expense it? Mar-a-Lago collects. Trump profits.
If the government rents a Mar-a-Lago owned vehicle (car, golf cart, etc.)? Mar-a-Lago collects. Trump profits.
If the government rents meeting rooms? Mar-a-Lago collects. Trump profits.
You get the picture.
Over a short three day jaunt — unless Trump is allowing Secret Service and his staff to take over Mar-a-Lago for free (and when is the last time he forwent a dollar?) — Trump is profiting well over $50,000 on the taxpayers’ dime.
And since it’s a private club, if he wants to raise the room rates, who’s going to stop him? Since he runs the executive branch of the government and wants to bring more staffers who’s going to stop him? If he wants to stay at Mar-a-Lago for three straight weeks or spend every weekend there for the next four years, who’s going to stop him?
Three post-inauguration trips means that Donald Trump has likely profited over $150,000 just from trips to Mar-a-Lago. Add in the Thanksgiving trip and Eric’s trip (where he stayed at the Trump Tower Punta del Este) and it’s likely that Donald Trump has profited well over $250,000 from taxpayers since his election.
Under the Constitution, the president gets a salary and that’s it. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution reads:
The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.
He’s been in office a month.
31 days in, 1431 to go
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