Former President Donald Trump has been living at his Mar-a-Lago club since leaving office more than a week ago — a possible violation of a 1993 agreement he made with the Town of Palm Beach that limits stays to seven consecutive days.
Town Manager Kirk Blouin said in an email Thursday that Palm Beach is examining its options and the matter might be discussed at the town council’s February meeting.
The South Florida town last month received a letter from an attorney representing a Mar-a-Lago neighbor demanding it enforce the agreement’s residency clause — something it rarely if ever did when Trump was president or before. The unnamed neighbor believes Trump’s residency would decrease property values, according to Reginald Stambaugh’s letter. Stambaugh did not return a call or email Thursday asking whether he has received a response.
Trump and former first lady Melania Trump changed their residency from New York City to Mar-a-Lago in 2019. His newly founded Office of the Former President forwarded emailed questions Thursday to the Trump Organization, the family’s business entity, which did not respond. Last month, it issued a statement saying, “There is no document or agreement in place that prohibits President Trump from using Mar-A-Lago as his residence.” Trump owns two other homes near Mar-a-Lago.
Author Laurence Leamer, a Palm Beach resident who wrote the 2019 book, “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace,” said this week he does not expect the town to challenge Trump if he decides to live there. He said Trump likes mingling with the club’s members and guests and have them “stroke his ego,” something he would not get living elsewhere.
“He goes through his days and people tell him he’s fantastic, he’s great, he’s unbelievable — that’s what he wants,” Leamer said.
Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago for $10 million in 1985 from the estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the owner of General Foods. The 126-room mansion had deteriorated after her death in 1973, when she left it to the U.S. government as a possible presidential vacation home. The government gave it back in 1981.
After Trump bought it, he spent millions upgrading the property while living there part-time.
“He must be given credit for not messing up Mar-a-Lago. Marjorie Merriweather Post built it in the ’20s and it is just one of the greatest mansions in the country,” Leamer said.
By the early 1990s, however, Trump was in financial distress. Real estate prices dropped and several of his businesses flopped, including a New Jersey casino. He told the town he could no longer afford the $3 million annual upkeep and it was unfair that he shouldered the costs alone. He proposed subdividing the property and building mansions. The town rejected the proposal.
In 1993, Trump and the town agreed he could turn the estate into a private club. It would be limited to 500 members — the initiation fee is now $200,000 and annual dues are $14,000. For an additional charge, members can stay in a suite for up to seven consecutive days and 21 days a year, the agreement says.
According to 1993 Palm Beach Post articles, Trump attorney Paul Rampell told the town council that if the agreement were approved, Trump would be treated like any other member.
“Another question that’s often asked to me is whether Mr. Trump will continue to live at Mar-a-Lago,” Rampell told the council, according to the Post. “No, except that he will be a member of the club and therefore will be entitled to the use of guest rooms.”
The length of Trump’s stays at Mar-a-Lago before his presidency are unknown, but Leamer said they often exceeded seven consecutive days and 21 days a year. During his presidency, Trump spent more than 21 days a year there, including visits of about two weeks during the Christmas holidays.
Before he became president, Trump clashed frequently with the town and its mostly staid residents over the club’s operation. Neighbors complained about noise, traffic and a car lot-sized U.S. flag and its 80-foot (24-meter) pole Trump erected in 2006 without the proper permits. The two sides eventually settled: Trump got a shorter pole and his foundation gave $100,000 to veteran charities. Trump then put the pole on a mound so it would still rise to 80 feet (24 meters).
“People say he doesn’t have the legal right to have legal residence (at Mar-a-Lago) — has the legal right ever been an issue for him?” Leamer said.
Despite the public squabbles, Trump performed well in November’s election among his neighbors — in Mar-a-Lago’s precinct, he got 62% of the vote.
January 30, 2021 at 12:50 pm
January 30, 2021 at 10:57 pm
“in November’s election among his neighbors — in Mar-a-Lago’s precinct, he got 62% of the vote”
It’s the people’s, President Trump’s neighbors, whose voice that counts, and thankfully not Mr. Leamer’s anti-Trump’s rants.
James Robert Miles
January 31, 2021 at 9:00 am
Trump signed an agreement with the Town of Palm Beach not to live there for more than 7 days at a time with a stipulation that the total number of days that he may live there annually is also limited. We know that Trump never honors his agreements as he is very much a reprobate! The number of people who voted for the SOB has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with this agreement, geez!
January 31, 2021 at 11:01 am
One good thing about Trump is that when no one else wanted Mar A Lago…it was too big and too expensive to be a residence, and despite its’ history and architecture, would probably have met the wrecking ball had he not bought it.
In the modern age of billionaires, there may be more of a market for it, but he should get credit for saving it. And that’s all he should get credit for…other than wrecking the economy, letting covid run rampant, and setting up an assault on the capitol because he couldn’t accept losing.
January 31, 2021 at 12:14 pm
Trump – 2024
Sen. Eric Swallows Well
January 31, 2021 at 2:33 pm
Watch out Mr. President. !!!!JOHN ROBERT MILES is angry AGAIN! OR…………….. JEALOUS? 😂😃😅
Robert R Sands
February 1, 2021 at 8:58 am
I can’t believe that the U.S. would be stupid enough to elect Trump for ANY office again in the future. He didn’t win the popular vote in 2016 and as we all know, he lost by more than 7 million votes in 2020, He is a divisive, racist pig among other things who lies every time he opens his mouth. Nobody in their right mind wants a man who CAN NOT tell the truth about ANYTHING! He represents everything that is against American values and his idiotic followers appear to be more ignorant than anything else. What is there to be jealous about, his money? We don’t even know how much he is worth since unlike past Presidents, Trump won’t release his tax returns. He lies about everything so how are we supposed to know if he is as wealthy as he claims to be? He should retire to Russia where he will fit right in with Putin and his authoritarian government.
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