State Department promotion of Mar-a-Lago questioned by Senator

State Department promotion of Mar-a-Lago questioned by Senator

UPDATE II: After publication, NCRM sent an email to the State Dept. requesting answers to questions, including who directed the writing and publication of the article, did anyone check to see if there are any conflicts of interest, and will the State Dept. continue to promote and advertise Trump properties.

Government Accountability Office officials agreed last month to examine the costs, security issues involved with conducting official business there and the fact that members at Mar-a-Lago would seemingly have special access to the President.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the posts.

The post, which originally appeared on the State Department ShareAmerica platform, said that the resort owner turned commander-in-chief was "belatedly fulfilling the dream" of the original owner who donated it to the government before Trump bought it.

As Town and Country reported in its profile of the club, Mar-a-Lago is a profitable business, which Trump made $15.6 million on in 2014. They say foreign leaders or diplomats could try to curry favor with the Trump administration by visiting or buying a membership at Mar-a-Lago.

The Trump administration has pulled down a State Department web page that promoted President Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after it was criticized by federal ethics experts. Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for Republican President George W. Bush, said on Twitter that the post constituted "use of public office for private gain pure and simple".

Following Trump's election to the White House, Mar-a-Lago doubled its membership fee. The home was originally built in 1927 by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The blog entry, which was posted earlier this month, stems from an earlier post by Share America, a State Department site that aims to share "compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics" with foreign governments and USA embassies. Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago seven out of the first 12 full weekends after his inauguration, and mingled with members on numerous occasions. The site explicitly names Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Critics complained that resources were being used to tout the for-profit club, which Trump refers to as the Winter White House.

"Why would these officials choose to put out communications praising Mar-a-Lago when it's so clearly a conflict?" asked John Wonderlich, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes government transparency.

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