Sunday, December 31, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He sold access to himself.

Trump is expected to attend tonight's New Year's party at Mar-a-Lago, the private club and de facto winter seat of the executive branch under his administration. Because ticket-buyers can count on Trump's attendance, tickets to the party now cost $600 for the club's 500 members and $750 for guests--a price hike of 14% and 30% respectively over what then-president-elect Trump charged for proximity to himself. 

The steep price tag--steep by most Americans' standards, anyway--is unlikely to deter many Mar-a-Lago members, who now pay $200,000 for their memberships and $15,000 in annual dues. If 4/5ths of the membership attend with a guest, Trump--who directly profits from all Mar-a-Lago revenues--will gross $540,000 on the night's tickets alone. (The actual number of tickets available is unclear, but the event will be bigger than last year's, which sold out.)

Trump's self-appointed "outside ethics advisor," Bobby Burchfield, declared the arrangement free of any ethical concerns. Burchfield is employed by the Trump Organization, which--in spite of the best efforts of actual, independent ethics officers--remains under the direct control of its principal owner, Donald Trump.

Unfortunately for mere rank-and-file millionaire members, however, their tickets may not buy them a private word with Trump this year. A separate VIP section is being built, although who will be permitted inside it or how much admission costs has not been revealed.

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents should not sell access to themselves.
  • There are more important things for the President of the United States of America to do than drum up sales for his private business concerns.

The weekly review, which normally appears on Sundays, will take place tomorrow.