A Nice Scam, If You Can Get It

Written by SK Ashby

We already know that the federal government and thus federal taxpayers have been indirectly paying Trump himself by funding his visits to his own properties and golf clubs, but the Washington Post has uncovered new details that still manage to raise (lower?) the bar of corruption.

You see, the government hasn't just been paying Trump's clubs to cover the cost of his visits; Trump's clubs have been paid when he wasn't even there.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort found a way to coax the Secret Service into paying for rooms just in case Trump decided to visit.

The Secret Service had asked for a room close to the president. But Mar-a-Lago said it was too late. The room was booked. Would agents like a room across the street from the president, instead?

“I do have a Beach Cabana available,” a staff member at President Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla., wrote in March 2017 to a Secret Service agent seeking rooms for the upcoming weekend. “Across the street at the Beach Club, North end of the pool.”

The next time, the Secret Service didn’t take the same risk. It paid Mar-a-Lago to book rooms for two weeks at a time — locking them up before the club could rent them to others, according to newly released records and emails.

For Trump’s club, it appeared, saying no to the Secret Service had made it a better customer. The agency was paying for rooms on nights when Trump wasn’t even visiting — to be ready just in case Trump decided to go, one former Trump administration official said.

Taxpayers have also paid ridiculous fees that were clearly invented just for the occasion.

Now, new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.

The list goes on.

I can't say this is a surprise because it's Donald Trump and virtually everything he says or does is corrupt, but the last four years have clearly demonstrated the need to put some actual teeth behind federal ethics laws. We can't rely on the honor system in a world where Americans are only ever another four years away from electing a regime with no honor and no scruples.

The next president and session of Congress will have its hands full with much bigger problems, but ethics reform has to be on the list. Passing reforms while they can should be a priority for Democrats and I don't think there's any doubt that a hypothetical President Biden would sign it.

If Trump is reelected, his corruption will grow without any constraints and the same will be true of the next Republican president.

It's kind of depressing to automatically assume any future GOP administration will be corrupt, but you can take a look at Trump's biggest cheerleaders and see that most of them are under the age of 60. That's true of members of Congress and it's true of voters in general. Joe Biden has a wide lead in polls of voters over the age of 65 while the only voters Trump leads are between 35 and 50. That's the next generation of Republican leaders and Trump's most reliable demographic.