May 27, 2020
The Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a motion to grant a portion of President Trump’s West Palm Beach golf resort a rent deferral due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a document obtained by CREW. The document suggests that another local office has approved a rent deferral for the course already, raising questions about the president’s businesses benefiting from government measures to address the crisis.
Last month, multiple news organizations reported that the Trump Organization was in talks with the county regarding its rent. While the document that was given to CREW is a recommendation from staff that the board approve the deferral and does not show that the board actually did so, a county official confirmed to CREW via email that the board voted unanimously to approve it.
The document shows the board considered a motion to grant part of Trump’s golf resort “temporary deferral of rent” under its lease. It says that it intends to grant it “upon the same terms as may be agreed to between Trump International Golf Club and the Director of Airports as authorized via May 5, 2020,” which also has a lease with the course.
Trump has been pushing for weeks to “reopen” the country, publicly railing against the nationwide shutdowns that have cost his business $1 million per day, by one estimate. Palm Beach County was in the unique position to be able to help the president’s business by granting it a rent deferral.
To date, President Trump has racked up 3,158 conflicts of interest as a result of his refusal to divest from his business when he took office. A deferral from a local government would be yet another interaction between his private profits and public position. While many businesses have struggled as a result of the pandemic, no other business has the advantage of the presidential bully pulpit.