Palm Beach County looks to end Trump golf course lease after U.S. Capitol riot


U.S. President Donald Trump plays golf at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., December 30, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

Palm Beach County in Florida this week began seeking a way to terminate a contract with President Donald Trump’s prized International Golf Club.

Howard Falcon, an assistant county attorney, said on Friday that a county commissioner asked him to examine whether the locality could cancel its lease with the president’s beloved West Palm Beach course.

The Palm Beach Post, which first reported that the county was examining the lease, added that the Trump business pays $88,338 per month in rent for the property.

Trump frequents his titular International Golf Club, located in unincorporated West Palm Beach and owned by the county, during his visits to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach estate. The president has been known to host parties at the club; noted guests to the course in prior years have included Kid Rock and Tiger Woods.

Despite the interest in canceling the lease, Falcon said he does not believe the county has the legal standing to end it. He added that the county’s lease agreement is with a Trump organization, not the president himself.

A lawyer for Trump’s golf course added to the Post that he had spoken with Falcon and concluded that there is “no basis for canceling the lease.”

The county’s move to explore cutting ties to Trump came about one week after hundreds of violent rioters stormed Capitol Hill, leading to the deaths of at least five people including a police officer.

The unprecedented attack on the Capitol has led to national and bipartisan pushback from politicians across the political spectrum. The House of Representatives made history this week when it voted to impeach Trump for a second time for his role in inciting or otherwise encouraging the riot.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will succeed Trump on Wednesday, has publicly rebuked the president’s actions and called him “incompetent.”

Though the impeachment proceedings angered the president, Trump is reportedly more upset about the fallout the riot has had on his business reputation and standing in the world of golf.

Multiple news outlets reported earlier this week that Trump was apoplectic after the PGA of America voted Sunday to take the Championship away from his New Jersey golf course next year.

“We find ourselves in a political situation not of our making,” Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, told the Associated Press. “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable.”

One New York Times reporter wrote on Monday that, compared with his reaction to the impeachment proceedings before him, Trump’s reaction to the PGA decision “was [a] different order of magnitude.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city would cut its own business ties to the president’s company in the wake of the riots. In a statement, de Blasio said New York is taking steps to terminate all contracts with the Trump Organization, which is composed of hundreds of businesses owned by the president.

The organization has three contracts to run concessions in the city — the Central Park Carousel, the Wollman and Lasker skating rinks and Ferry Point Golf Course — which bring the company $17 million a year, according to The Washington Post.

“The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power,” de Blasio said in a statement.

“The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form, and we are immediately taking steps to terminate all Trump Organization contracts,” he added at the time.



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