The letter came as Trump’s days in office are winding down and he is proceeding with plans to move with his wife and son to Florida after the inauguration of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden, on January 20. The New York Times reported in 2018 that Trump had changed his domicile to Mar-a-Lago, in part for tax purposes. Almost immediately, residents of the town began raising questions about the legality of the move, given the agreement the President struck with the town decades ago.
Construction has been done on the president’s residential quarters at the club, where Trump is expected to spend the Christmas holiday and which Stambaugh argued already violates the use agreement.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Stambaugh’s complaint. The mayor of Palm Beach and a spokesperson for the Trump Organisation did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Glenn Zeitz, a New Jersey-based lawyer who is assisting Stambaugh and is not being paid by the DeMoss family, said the town had declined to enforce certain aspects of the agreement in the past on several issues, including how many days a year the President has stayed there.
In other instances, Trump has been given leeway by the town because of legitimate security concerns. Among them was the addition of a helipad for Marine One, which will be removed after he leaves office.
“As President, I think they gave him certain considerations that they felt were the appropriate thing because of his status,” said Zeitz.
Trump has sought to do things such as build a dock attached to his property that the agreement prohibited, ostensibly for club members’ use. That effort was blocked by the town and then the President submitted a revised effort claiming it was for private use for himself and the first lady. He withdrew the second dock petition after the 1993 use agreement became public.
With the letter, Stambaugh is hoping to push the town to make clear that Trump is flouting the terms of his agreement allowing him to convert the sprawling Mar-a-Lago property from a private residence into a club.
“The significant tax breaks the president received for this arrangement remain in effect, as does the use agreement,” Stambaugh wrote. “Some press reports indicate that renovation has already commenced at Mar-a-Lago in order to make the family quarters more commodious for full-time residency.”
Part of that use agreement limits how long members can stay there. It says that there cannot be stays for “three non-consecutive seven-day periods by any one member during the year”.
The club is also supposed to file sworn statements with the town each year asserting that a minimum of 50 per cent of its members live or work in Palm Beach and that the club has no more than 500 members.
Some of those reports have not been filed. And the club has seen a boom in the number of members who have joined in the past few years, although it is not clear if they replaced departing members.
The New York Times