State Department websites promote Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, triggering ethics concerns

The U.S. State Department has twice promoted President Donald Trump‘s privately owned Mar-a-Lago country club in Florida on government-run websites, raising new the issue of conflicts of interest.

A blog post about this history of Mar-a-Lago by author Leigh Hartman first appeared on Share America, a website run by the State Department, on April 4.( The State Department removed the post on Monday after it received attention .) The post was summarized in an April 5 blog post on the website for the U.S. embassy in London, which directed readers back to the full Share America piece. The State Department’s bureau of Economic and Business Affairs also promoted the blog post on Facebook.

It wasn’t until Monday, however, when people took notification after reporter Amy Westervelt questioned the embassy blog post.

Democratic lawmakers took notice, and Sen. Ron Wyden( D-Ore .) blamed the State Department for promoting Trump’s private business use taxpayer $$.

It is unclear how the editorial processes work at either Share America or the U.S. embassy blog. A State Department official told the Daily Dot in an email that the article was intended to to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders. A spokesman for Sen. Wyden declined to comment further but said his office has not received any information received from the State Department or the White House regarding the senator’s criticism.

Mar-a-Lago, can be found in West Palm Beach, has become a point of contention for President Trump’s critics who watch his frequent use of what he has dubbed the winter White House as a symbol of his dismissive position toward potential conflicts of interest.

Of the 14 weekends in Trump’s presidency so far, he has expended seven at Mar-a-Lago and 12 at Trump-owned properties. The president hosted both Japanese Prime Minister Shinz Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the resort, which is only available to members who pay $200,000 per year. Trump’s full visitor listings at Mar-a-Lago and the White House remain secret.

Each trip to Mar-a-Lago is estimated to cost over $3.5 million in government monies, some of which are paid to the Trump-owned resort itself.

It is unlikely that Trump will continue to visit Mar-a-Lago at the same pace as summertime arrived at the the U.S. An avid golfer, the president is expected to begin using the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, more frequently in the coming months.

Update 6:30 pm CT, April 24 : The State Department has removed its post about Mar-a-lago. We have also added a statement from a State official.

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