Southern White House, Donald Trump

A Southern White House? Donald Trump Criticized For Repeated Expensive Retreats

Donald Trump continues to come under fire for maintaining his posh lifestyle while serving as the President of the United States as fresh reports detailing the costs associated with visiting the “southern White House” — the president’s new moniker for Mar-a-Lago.

As Donald Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago for the third consecutive weekend, the estimated cost of the three weekend excursions to a property the President called the “southern White House” in a recent tweet could total $10 million or more for taxpayers. The Washington Post used figures from an October government report on White House travel to assess the lavish spending southern trips to Mar-a-Lago will cost taxpayers.

Southern White House, Donald Trump
Mar-a-Lago — the property Donald Trump now calls the “southern White House” — during a recent visit this month. [Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

The jet-setting Donald Trump has experienced in his first month — coupled with security costs for trips for his children have made overseas — could cause security costs to skyrocket versus previous administrations. Several groups are concerned over the high-security costs already witnessed for Donald Trump, including Judicial Watch. Tom Fitton — president of the conservative group Judicial Watch — said the president should be mindful of how much a trip to the “southern White House” will cost taxpayers.

“This is an expensive way to conduct business, and the president should recognize that. The unique thing about President Trump is that he knows what it costs to run a plane. Going down there ain’t free.”

What has made travel to an estate President Donald Trump has begun calling the “southern White House” more expensive is the unique security issues a beachfront property creates. When Donald Trump visits Mar-a-Lago, the Coast Guard patrols the exposed shoreline around the clock at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers. Additionally, the Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has claimed nearly $1.5 million in overtime payments have been made to police officers working overtime to redirect traffic flow and provide additional security for the President since winning the election in November.

southern White House
Coast Guard patrols around Mar-a-Lago are expensive added security necessary at the Donald Trump estate, now being called the “southern White House.” [Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

Instead of taking trips to the “southern White House,” President Donald Trump could use the traditional administration retreat at Camp David, Tom Fitton pointed out. Camp David is only a short helicopter ride away, much like the golf course Donald Trump owns in northern Virginia. Both locales could better serve the Secret Service — the unit charged with providing security to President Donald Trump and his family.

Donald Trump isn’t the first president to use the Mar-a-Lago estate as a southern escape from the White House. Time reported that both John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon used the mansion during their administrations for retreats.

The family that owned the estate — cereal heiress and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post — gifted the property and an upkeep fund to the United States government after her passing in 1973 for use as a winter destination for presidents and visiting dignitaries. The home stayed with the United States government until 1986 when the property’s maintenance was deemed too expensive to fund. The luxurious estate returned to the Post Foundation in the 1980’s.

Donald Trump bought the “southern White House” in 1986 for an estimated $10-15 million, the New York Times wrote about the sale. The estate purchase of Mar-a-Lago was considered to be “among the largest private home purchases in America,” according to the detailed review of the mansion.

“It includes 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, 27 servants’ rooms, three bomb shelters, a theater, a ballroom and a nine-hole golf course. There is also a private tunnel to the beach. Annual maintenance is $1 million.”

southern White House, Donald Trump
Mar-a-Lago — what is now being referred to as the “southern White House” — has served as the backdrop for the marriage of Donald Trump Jr. in 2004. [Image by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images]

Donald Trump attempted to sell Mar-a-Lago during the 1990’s for $30 million to shed the expensive property. When town officials resisted to breaking up the 17-acre estate, Donald Trump took another route to turn a profit off the Mediterranean-style home: converting it into a private club in 1993. The home has remained a private club for the wealthy ever since.

The “southern White House” now has an even-pricier membership tag since Donald Trump has assumed the presidency, according to CNBC. Membership initiation into the private club at Mar-a-Lago sets individuals back $200,000 — not to mention an annual $14,000 in dues. The price increase in membership took effect as of January 1, 2017.

Do you believe that Donald Trump should foot the bill on visits to the “southern White House” property his company owns? Continue to check back with the Inquisitr for more on this developing story.

[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]