According to USA Today, whose reporters had the unenviable job of scouring thousands of golfers’ social media posts, dozens of lobbyists and federal contractors are paying members of Trump’s private golf clubs, whose initial membership fees can add up to $100,000, plus annual dues. This money, of course, goes towards enriching the president. And many of those same people have just happened to play on days when Trump is also golfing (and boy has Trump spent a lot of days golfing!), meaning that they are getting some serious access to the president.
While it is not illegal for contractors and lobbyists to spend money at Trump’s establishments, the ethical implications are stark: If you are wealthy, you can pay the president for face time. This is especially troubling given that Trump is well-known for agreeing with the last person who speaks with him, and will hang out with basically anyone who wants to post a picture of him on Instagram.
Not to mention that in February, when Trump was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-A-Lago, the two responded to a North Korean ballistic missile test on an open-air terrace in full view of paying members:
Trump’s customers are getting the chance to advise Trump and, more troubling still, it is not hard to imagine him taking that advice seriously. As USA Today wrote, “Many describe Trump as surprisingly approachable, welcoming advice on everything from the state of the tee boxes to the course of his administration.” In Trump’s administration, members-only corruption is the new norm.