State Department is promoting Trump's Mar-a-Lago in online blog post

Posted April 25, 2017

Nonetheless, Eric Trump recently compared his father's visits to Mar-a-Lago to President George W. Bush's trips to his ranch in Texas. Before Trump became president, the initial cost of a membership was $100,000.

The State Department's Share America website published an article that was nothing but a commercial for a Trump-owned property.

Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday he was unaware of the post. The post is tagged under "US History", "Cultural Preservation" and "President Trump".

Other topics on the Share America page include a new USA coin honoring Frederick Douglass, debate over the Confederate flag and news about first lady Melania Trump's participation in the State Department's International Women of Courage award ceremony.

"After refurbishing the house and adding an events space, Trump opened the estate to dues-paying members of the public in 1995 as the Mar-a-Lago Club", the State Department item reads.

Win McNamee  Getty Images News  Getty Images
Win McNamee Getty Images News Getty Images

An article originating on a taxpayer-funded State Department website promotes Mar-a-Lago, the lavish estate founded and furnished by Marjorie Merriwether Post in the mid-1920s and owned as a for-profit club by President Donald Trump.

In a statement sent to ThinkProgress, Norm Eisen, former Obama administration ethics czar, said the State Department's conduct appears to be a violation of a federal statute prohibiting federal employees from using public offices for private gaine. Trump maintains ownership of his global business empire, though he has handed off control to his two oldest sons, an arrangement that ethics watchdogs said would not prevent conflicts of interest.

"Publishing promotional materials for the President's private business is clearly inappropriate, whether he is using it for official business or not", he said. "Why are taxpayer $$ promoting the President's private country club?" In February, Senator Elizabeth Warren called on the Government Accountability Office to review whether national security protocols were being followed at the property after Trump and Abe dealt with a North Korean missile launch in the club's dining room. Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago seven out of the first 12 full weekends after his inauguration, and mingled with members on numerous occasions.

But on the webpage about Mar-a-Lago, there is no discussion of policy.

Eisen also put the State Department's promotion of Mar-a-Lago in the broader context of a White House that doesn't seem to care about problems created by using government platforms to promote private financial interests.