Washington (CNN)- President Donald Trump personally owns Mar-a-Lago, his private club on Florida’s eastern coast. But that didn’t stop the State Department, in a blog post on the United States Embassy in London’s website, from touting the property.
In a markedly promotional blog post from April 5 that could eventually benefit the President’s bottom line, should it spur membership or foreign visits, the embassy writes that the property has “become well known as the President frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders.”
Ethics watchdogs and Democratic groups have been closely eying Trump’s ability to benefit his bottom line through the presidency and this blog post has some questioning whether the government is now helping publicize the property.
The Mar-a-Lago Club has already seemingly benefited from Trump’s presidency. The club raised its initiation fee from $100,000 to $200,000 after Trump was elected and members and former members around Mar-a-Lago have said there is now an added cachet with frequently visiting the President’s club.
“Aggressively begging foreign countries to funnel money straight into Trump’s pocket is a clear violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, but that’s precisely what the State Department is doing by openly promoting one of the Trumps’ private businesses,” Shripal Shah, vice president of American Bridge, a Democratic firm, said Monday. “It’s a gross abuse of taxpayer resources and flagrant violation of the law from an administration that thinks rules don’t apply to them.”
Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner wasn’t aware of the post when it was raised by reporters on Monday.
The blog entry, which was posted earlier this month, stems from an earlier post by Share America, a State Department site that aims to share “compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics” with foreign governments and US embassies.
The Share America story, which labels Mar-a-Lago the “winter White House,” a term Trump has taken to using, goes through the history of the property and how Trump was set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at the property in April.
The entry details how it was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1927, when the cereal heiress hoped the property would be used by presidents and dignitaries. Trump bought the property in 1985. The post also noted that “Trump opened the estate to dues-paying members of the public in 1995 as the Mar-a-Lago Club.”
Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago seven times as president, spending a total of 25 days at the club.
He has entertained foreign dignitaries — including Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — but he has also spent considerable time on the golf course, including at his nearby Trump International Golf Club.
Here’s a pic: