The bizarre and disturbing relationship between Donald Trump and the people who pay huge sums of money to be members at his Mar-a-Lago golf club made headlines on Monday when a surprising link to the Mueller investigation was discovered by POLITICO reporters.
Darren Samuelsohn reports that a prominent Mar-a-Lago member and Trump campaign donor has been quietly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into a fund to pay for the legal fees of the current and former Trump aides under investigation by Special Counsel Mueller’s probe into the alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. POLITICO reports that:
“Anthony Lomangino, a recycling mogul and major GOP campaign contributor, gave two donations, in July and September, to the Patriot Legal Expense Trust Fund, according to the trust’s latest filing.
The latest IRS filing for the fund — set up in February to help current and former Trump aides and associates who need help hiring lawyers for the Mueller probe — shows a $114,000 payment for legal consulting to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Ethics watchdogs and transparency organizations were infuriated when it became clear early in Trump’s presidency that the President would be spending huge amounts of taxpayer money to fly to Mar-a-Lago every few weeks but would also be exploiting his position for profit by jacking up the membership prices and giving the purchasers a chance to rub shoulders with senior cabinet figures.
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Their fears were realized when ProPublica revealed earlier this year that three Mar-a-Lago customers, Palm Beach Dr. Brian Moskowitz, Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and lawyer Marc Shermer for the past two years had been secretly deciding policy behind the scenes at the Veterans’ Administration.
Thousands of Freedom of Information Act documents reveal that the three men, known as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” to the staffers at the VA, communicated with VA officials every day, “reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions” and pushing the VA to start new programs — and running to Trump to complain if they didn’t get their way.
Now that it’s been established that Trump’s super-rich buddies have bought themselves a channel to government policy through Mar-a-Lago, we can only wonder at what Lomangino has received as a thank you for his generous donations to the President’s embattled aides.
With luck, diligent journalists will bring the truth to light sooner rather than later.