Access to the President and his cabinet are incredibly valuable. This is why companies spend millions a year on lobbying. This is why President Obama’s golfing buddy Robert Wolf was able to set up a powerful consultancy in the Obama years. This is why Indian tribes paid Jack Abramoff so much money.
In those cases, it was associates of the President who sold access to the President. With Mar a Lago, it’s the President himself profiting from access to him. Trump refused to sell his company or unload his properties. While he has given up management of them, he still owns them. That means he still profits when someone books a gala there or becomes a member. And if you’ve followed the lobbying game in Washington, you know that special interests are likely shelling out the cash to get a chance to be close to the President—not necessarily because they expect Trump to reward them as a quid pro quo for their membership, but because joining Mar a Lago is the best way to get close to him.
It’s a nice setup for those who want some government favor and can afford a six-figure check. And it’s a nice setup for Donald Trump.