Mar-a-Lago: Trump can live full-time at club as ‘bona fide employee’, Palm Beach attorney rules

·3-min read
<p>Mar-a-Lago is the 22nd largest house in the US, while the White House is only 33rd</p> (Getty Images)

Mar-a-Lago is the 22nd largest house in the US, while the White House is only 33rd

(Getty Images)

Palm Beach’s town attorney has ruled that Donald Trump is permitted to live at his Mar-a-Lago Club full-time as a “bona fide employee”.

John “Skip” Randolph had previously issued a letter to the town council recommending that they allow the former president to live at the property, despite a 1993 agreement with the city that prohibited it from being used as a residence.

Strict rules regarding how long members may stay at the club were enforced when its use was switched from a private residence to a for-profit club and resort.

However, town zoning rules permit private clubs to allow accommodation to employees and Mr Randolph is satisfied that Mr Trump fits the criteria, Palm Beach Daily News reports.

Mr Trump’s attorney, John Marion, had previously provided the town with evidence that the former president was very much involved in the running of the club.

A list of his duties comprised of: “overseeing the property, evaluating the performance of employees, suggesting improvements to the club’s operations, reviewing the club’s financials, attending events, greeting guests and recommending candidates for membership.”

The news comes as the Trump family prepares to decamp to their residence at their Bedminster, New Jersey golf club for the summer, as they do every year when the weather becomes too hot in Florida and hurricane season approaches.

Residents of Palm Beach had complained about the presence of the former president citing the rules about how long members may stay at Mar-a-Lago, but regulations regarding employees specifically mention those that are “sole proprietors” of the club.

“This guy, as he wanders the property, is like the mayor of the town of Mar-a-Lago, if you will,” Mr Marion told the council at a meeting in February.

“He’s always present, he’s ever-present. And he loves it there. And he loves the people that he sees there.”

Read more: Everything we know about Trump’s new Florida home

Mr Trump has owned Mar-a-Lago since 1985, converting it to a members’ club in 1993 when his financial woes forced him to reassess his assets. It was at that point local authorities imposed the current regulations.

The council had previously been briefed on Mr Trump’s involvement in the running of the club, and the ownership of Mar-a-Lago Club LLC, which was transferred back into his name on 25 January having been held in trust while he was president.

Mr Marion said that he understood what an imposition it was on neighbours having a sitting president regularly visit, but now things are different and the police and Secret Service presence has decreased.

If Mr Trump had to move to one of the other four properties he owns in the vicinity of the club, the disruption would be much worse, Mr Marion argued.

The Spanish colonial-revival style mansion was built by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, with construction completed in 1927. It is the 22nd largest house in the US – the White House comes in at number 33.

On the death of Ms Post in 1973, she bequeathed the 17-acre estate to the federal government as a Winter White House for the use of presidents and visiting dignitaries. However, neither the Nixon nor Carter administrations were interested in using it.

In 1980 Mar-a-Lago was declared a National Historic Landmark and in 1981 it was returned to the Post Foundation, which listed it for sale at $20m.

Mr Trump eventually purchased the property for between $7m and $10m.

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