Inspectors just slapped Trump’s Mar-a-Lago with multiple dangerous violations

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President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, which charges members a $200,000 annual fee, had to make emergency repairs in November after it was cited by Florida state building inspectors for poor maintenance. 

The historic facility on the beachfront in Palm Beach, Florida – considered the largest mansion in the state – had to make the emergency repairs just before the Thanksgiving holiday rush began, according to the Miami Herald. 

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Built between 1924 and 1927 by cereals heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, the 126-room, 62,500 square foot resort purchased in 1985 by Trump was cited on November 8 for two violations, both of which were said by inspectors to be a high priority.

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One of the problems was a lack of smoke detectors that had flashing bright lights to alert the hearing impaired; the other was slabs of concrete missing from a staircase, that left steel rebar exposed which could cause someone to fall.

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According to the inspection code, “High priority lodging violations are those which could pose a direct or significant threat to the public health, safety or welfare.”

Inspectors in November also found 15 violations in the two main kitchens, which serve the two main restaurants and others in what is classified as a “bed and breakfast.”

The violations included a failure to keep track of the freshness of potentially hazardous foods, including expired curry sauce found in a freezer; and milk that was improperly stored at 49 degrees instead of the safe temperature of 41 degrees. There were also cases of hot dogs improperly stored on the ground of the walk-in freezer.

This is not the only violation found in the past year. This past February, just before the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Mar-a-Lago kitchen was cited by inspectors for serving sushi fish without required treatment for parasites, as well as storing food in two broken coolers at temperatures so low that the food was spoiled. 

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The Mar-a-Lago was rechecked on November 17 and passed, according to the state inspectors.

Over Thanksgiving, Trump was there with his family and others for the first time he had celebrated the holiday at Mar-a-Lago since he became president.

Trump doesn’t live in the hotel. He maintains separate quarters in a closed off area of the main house. Trump was at Mar-a-Lago for at least 40 days last year.

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Before Trump became president, the initiation fee for the nearly 500 members was $100,000. After the election it was raised to $200,000 with an annual membership fee of $14,000. In 2015-2016, according to federal disclosure forms, it had gross revenue of just under $30 million for the one year period. 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that each time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago, it costs the U.S. taxpayers at least $3.6 million for air travel. Trump has gone there on vacation more times than any other U.S. President in modern history has taken trips.

Newsweek reported in December, citing a Wall Street Journal report about Air Force figures, that the cost was actually $6.6 million for the air travel alone on each trip.

That cost can vary depending on how many people go and whether extra security is needed because Trump at times invites world leaders like Abe there as well, which can ramp up the costs significantly. The Secret Service paid over $63,000 to the hotel between February and April alone, according to CNN. 

While Trump has given it the unofficial designation of the Winter White House, his presence there is not appreciated by all of his neighbors. Each time he comes, many roads are blocked off and airspace is limited, causing rerouting and traffic jams. 

Trump also got an exemption from the city of Palm Beach after Trump was elected to allow helicopters to land on the property, which would otherwise be illegal.

Along with the extraordinary cost of his travel to Mar-a-Lago, critics have charged that by calling it the Winter White House and being there and available to guests at the New Year’s Eve party and other times, it has boosted the value to The Trump Organization, which might be seen as a violation of the foreign emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

However you measure it, the cost to the government to provide services and security to Trump and his large family is breaking records, so it is fair to expect the property would at least be kept up enough to meet state inspections on the first try.

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Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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