Ka-ching! Mar-a-Lago membership cost doubles, to $200,000
The initiation fee at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida — which the president himself has dubbed the Winter White House — has doubled to $200,000, after membership applications surged in the wake of Mr. Trump’s election, the head of membership there said.
Bernd Lembcke, the managing director at the Palm Beach, Fla., club, said the change in the initiation fee had been planned last fall, before the election, and that $200,000 had been the fee before 2010, when it was cut in half because of the recession.
But Mr. Lembcke, who has been at the club for 21 years, said that it also reflected the upswing in Mar-a-Lago’s popularity.
“We have had a sudden surge in requests,” he said, adding that new members must be recommended by someone who is already a member, as is the case at many private clubs.
Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit group that promotes government ethics, said the move showed that Mr. Trump and his family intended to profit from his status as president.
“At the minimum, this creates the appearance of cashing in the presidency and selling direct personal access to the president,” he said. “It is unacceptable. And it demeans the office of the presidency.”
The new initiation fee went into effect on Jan. 1, although the annual dues remained the same — $14,000 a year, he said.
The club has 482 members, with a cap of 500.
“It enhances it,” Mr. Lembcke said of Mr. Trump’s new job and its impact on the value of the membership. “His presidency does.”
“But we are very careful in vetting them,” he added.
News about the change in the initiation fee was reported by CNBC.