Mar-a-Lago: The price of Trump’s ‘Winter White House’

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AFP

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Hello Florida: Mr Trump has flown to Mar-a-Lago most weekends of his presidency

When President Trump flies in to Palm Beach County, Jorge Gonzales stays firmly on the ground.

That’s a problem for the 35-year-old because his small skywriting businesses only really works in the air, and when Mr Trump’s in town a 10-mile no-fly zone comes with him.

“Every weekend he’s here we shut down,” said Mr Gonzales, “and right now that’s every weekend.”

Since taking office 10 weeks ago, Mr Trump has spent seven weekends at Mar-a-Lago, a sun-kissed coastal expanse in Palm Beach that he bought in 1985 and turned into a private members club. His visits have riled taxpayers and raised concerns over an uneasy mix of business and politics.

On Thursday he will once again jet down to the so-called “Winter White House”, this time to host the Chinese president Xi Jinping. Roads will close, Secret Service agents will swarm, Navy gunboats will patrol, and Mr Gonzales will kick his heels.

“About 97% of my business occurs on the weekends, and I make 80% of my revenue between January and May,” he said. “We were told to expect him to come once a month. We never imagined it would be every weekend.”

Mr Gonzales estimated that he’d lost about $65,000 and several clients since Mr Trump took office. “At this rate we might survive through the summer,” he said, “but I don’t see the company lasting much beyond that.”

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