Mar-a-Lago Doubles Its Initiation Fee to $200K

Ethics experts call it 'unacceptable,' 'naked profiteering'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2017 8:44 AM CST
Mar-a-Lago Doubles Its Initiation Fee to $200K
You'll need an even deeper wallet now to join Mar-a-Lago.   (Getty Images/Wangkun Jia)

Want to join the ranks of those allowed into Donald Trump's "winter White House"? You'll have to double what you would've spent in 2016 for a Mar-a-Lago membership fee, which was increased Jan. 1 from $100,000 to $200,000, sources "close to the resort" tell CNBC. Bernd Lembcke, the club's managing director, confirmed the price spike in an email Wednesday, per Bloomberg. And although Donald Trump Jr. has now reportedly been named the official director of the club in his father's stead, Norm Eisen—President Obama's former chief ethics lawyer and part of an advocacy group that's filed a lawsuit against Trump for violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause—says what's going on at the Palm Beach, Fla., estate is nothing more than "naked profiteering" that would have been more befitting a kleptocrat like "Louis XVI."

Mar-a-Lago is "certainly a lot more crowded now that he's president," one member concedes to the Washington Post. The club's fee had reached $200,000 in the past, but had been slashed back to $100,000—the CNBC sources say the cost was cut in 2012 after the Bernie Madoff hubbub, while Lembcke tells the New York Times that it was reduced in 2010 due to the recession. In addition to the reinstated $200,000 initiation fee, members must also pay $14,000 in annual dues (plus tax on the whole deal). But while one ethics watchdog rep calls the increased fee an "unacceptable" development that "demeans" the presidency, Lembcke tells the Times that plans for this price boost were put in place before the election. He does add that since Trump's win, there's been a "sudden surge" in application requests. (More Mar-a-Lago stories.)

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