But Robert Weissman, the president of the government ethics watchdog group Public Citizen, said the selection of Mr. Burchfield and the decision to double the Mar-a-Lago initiation fee demonstrated that the Trump Organization was unprepared to confront the ethics challenges it now faces.
“At the minimum, this creates the appearance of cashing in on the presidency and selling direct personal access to the president,” Mr. Weissman said of the new Mar-a-Lago fee. “It is unacceptable. And it demeans the office of the presidency.”
Mr. Lembcke said in an interview that the fee change had been planned last fall, before the election, and that $200,000 was the cost before 2010, when it was cut in half because of the recession. The fee increase was first reported by CNBC.
Mr. Lembcke, who has worked at Mar-a-Lago for 21 years, acknowledged that there had been an increase in the club’s popularity resulting from Mr. Trump’s election, as a wave of new applicants have sought to become members.