Richard Painter, the former top ethics lawyer in the George W Bush administration, believes that the party – as with Trump’s continued use of the club – offers presidential access to anyone that can afford its $200,000 initiation fee.
“Trump continues to combine his personal business with his official work,” says Painter. The real problem, he says, is that Trump is at his so-called ‘Winter White House’ so often that he is effectively conducting official business while promoting his own property.
“He can easily be contacted by members of Mar-a-Lago, so people who pay him or pay his company money are getting preferential access. If you go to the bar, you run into prominent government officials. So it’s lobbying, but it’s not lobbying that’s going to be disclosed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.”