Trump’s ‘Winter White House’: A Peek at the Exclusive Members’ List at Mar-a-Lago
On any given weekend, you might catch President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top Mideast dealmaker, Jared Kushner, by the beachside soft serve ice cream machine, or his reclusive chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, on the dining patio. If you are lucky, the president himself could stop by your table for a quick chat. But you will have to pay $200,000 for the privilege — and the few available spots are going fast.
随便哪一个周末，你或许都能在海滩上的软冰淇淋机旁见到唐纳德·特朗普总统的女婿、顶尖的中东交易促成者贾里德·库什纳(Jared Kushner)，或者在餐厅露台上见到他的那位行事低调的首席战略师史蒂芬·班农(Stephen Bannon)。如果运气好，总统本人还可以在你桌边跟你匆匆聊两句。但是为了获取这一特权，你必须支付20万美元——而且席位有限，欲购从速。
Virtually overnight, Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s members-only Palm Beach, Florida, club, has been transformed into the part-time capital of U.S. government, a winter White House where Trump has entertained a foreign head of state, health care industry executives and other presidential guests.
But Trump’s gatherings at Mar-a-Lago — he arrived there Friday afternoon, his third weekend visit in a row — have also created an arena for potential political influence rarely seen in U.S. history: a kind of Washington steakhouse on steroids, situated in a sunny playground of the rich and powerful, where members and their guests enjoy a level of access that could elude even the best-connected of lobbyists.
Membership lists reviewed by The New York Times show that the club’s nearly 500 paying members include dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Trump’s policies. At least three club members are under consideration for an ambassadorship. Most of the 500 have had memberships predating Trump’s presidential campaign, and there are a limited number of memberships still available.
William I. Koch, who oversees a major mining and fuels company, belongs to Mar-a-Lago, as does billionaire trader Thomas Peterffy, who spent more than $8 million on political ads in 2012 warning of creeping socialism in the United States.
威廉·I·科赫(William I. Koch)是一家大型采矿和燃料公司的管理者，他是马阿拉歌俱乐部的会员；身家亿万的贸易商托马斯·彼得菲(Thomas Peterffy)也是会员，2012年，他花了超过800万美元做政治广告，警告社会主义正在美国蔓延。
Another member is George Norcross, an insurance executive and the South Jersey Democratic Party boss, whose friendship with Trump dates to the president’s Atlantic City years, when Norcross held insurance contracts with Trump’s casinos, and Trump wrangled with the state’s Democratic leaders over tax treatment of the properties. Yet another member is Janet Weiner, part owner and chief financial officer of the Rockstar energy drink company, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying federal officials to avoid tighter regulations on its products.
另一个成员是乔治·诺克罗斯(George Norcross)，保险公司执行官和南泽西民主党领袖，他与总统的友谊始于特朗普的大西洋城时代，当时诺克罗斯与特朗普的赌场签署了保险合同，与此同时，特朗普与该州的民主党领导人正就税务待遇问题发生争执。另一位成员是詹尼特·韦纳(Janet Weiner)，Rockstar能源饮料公司的部分所有者和首席财务官，该公司花费了数十万美元游说联邦官员，以避免对其产品实行更严格的监管。
Bruce Toll, a real estate executive who co-founded Toll Brothers, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, and who is still active in the industry, owns a home nearby and frequently sees Trump at Mar-a-Lago, he said. While they did not discuss any of Toll’s specific projects, he said, the two would occasionally discuss national issues, such as Trump’s plans to increase spending on highways and other infrastructure projects.
布鲁斯·托尔(Bruce Toll)是一位房地产高管，他参与创办了全美最大的住宅建筑商之一托尔兄弟公司(Toll Brothers)，托尔仍然活跃在这个行业，在附近有一处住所，他说，自己经常在马阿拉歌见到特朗普。虽然他们没有讨论托尔的任何具体项目，但是两人偶尔会讨论国家大事，比如特朗普计划增加高速公路和其他基础设施项目的支出。
“Maybe you ought to do this or that,” Toll said of the kind of advice that Trump got from club members.
Trump’s son Eric, in an interview Friday, rejected suggestions that his family was offering access to his father and profiting from it. First, he said, only 20 to 40 new members are admitted per year, and second, the wealthy business executives who frequent the club, among others, have many ways to communicate with the federal government if they want to.
“It assumes the worst of us and everyone, and that is unfair,” Eric Trump said.
Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, said the president had no conflicts of interest, a reference to the fact that federal law exempts him from provisions prohibiting federal employees from taking actions that could benefit themselves financially.
“But regardless, he has not and will not be discussing policy with club members,” she said in a written statement.
Mar-a-Lago, she added, is “one of the most successful private clubs in the world,” and it “was intended to be the Southern White House, and the president looks forward to hosting many world leaders at this remarkable property.”
Koch — the estranged brother of his better-known siblings, Charles G. and David H. — owns a home in Palm Beach and hosted a fundraiser for Trump during the campaign. His company, Oxbow Carbon, is among the world’s largest sellers of petroleum coke, an oil byproduct, and would be a significant beneficiary of the Keystone XL pipeline, construction of which is a Trump administration priority.
科赫——其兄弟查尔斯·G(Charles G.)和戴维·H(David H.)更有名，但与他关系疏远——在棕榈滩有一处房屋，并在竞选期间为特朗普举办过一次筹款活动。他的奥克斯博能源公司(Oxbow Carbon)是全球最大的石油副产品石油焦供应商之一，并且可能是Keystone XL输油管道的重要受益方。而建设Keystone XL输油管道正是特朗普政府的头等大事。
Brad Goldstein, a spokesman for William Koch, said that he did not know whether the two men had ever discussed policy matters. “If I did know,” Goldstein added, “the answer would be that I decline to comment.”
Historically, of course, U.S. presidents have often been rich men with mansions, who sometimes conducted the people’s business in weekend haunts of the wealthy: the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, for example, or the Kennedy family home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower joined the elite Augusta National Golf Club before he was elected, frequently hanging out there with a group of affluent businessmen who became known as “the gang,” which included top executives from Coca-Cola and an oil company, an investment banker and a lawyer-financier-lobbyist.
德怀特·D·艾森豪威尔(Dwight D. Eisenhower)总统在当选前便加入了面向精英的奥古斯塔国家高尔夫俱乐部(Augusta National Golf Club)，他常常和一群被称为“老大帮”(the gang)的富有生意人在那里出没，其中包括可口可乐(Coca-Cola)和一家石油公司的负责人、一名投资银行家以及一名律师兼金融家兼说客。
But Trump’s weekend White House appears to be unprecedented in U.S. history, as it is the first one with customers paying a company owned by the president, several historians said.
“Mar-a-Lago represents a commercialization of the presidency that has few if any precedents in American history,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and Andrew Jackson biographer. “Presidents have always spent time with the affluent,” he added. “But a club where people pay you as president to spend time in his company is new. It is kind of amazing.”
“马阿拉歌代表着总统职务的商业化，在美国历史上，这样的先例即使有也不多，”总统史学家、安德鲁·杰克逊(Andrew Jackson)的传记作者乔恩·米查姆(Jon Meacham)说。“总统们向来会跟富人交往，”他补充道。“但人们付钱给总统，以便在总统的公司里消磨时光，这样的俱乐部是新事物。相当不同寻常。”
Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a longtime donor to and a friend of the president, said Trump had always conducted what amounted to informal focus groups on a variety of topics, but that face time with him since the election had become restricted to family and old friends.
Newsmax Media的首席执行官克里斯托夫·拉迪(Christopher Ruddy)是特朗普的长期捐赠者与友人，他说，特朗普以前常常就各种话题举行类似于非正式焦点小组讨论的活动，但自从他当选总统以来，和家人及老友面对面相处的时间便受到了限制。
“It’s a myth to think that anybody could just join the club and go speak to the president,” Ruddy said, adding that the Secret Service has instituted a de facto rope line around the president’s table in recent weeks, which several other club members confirmed.
But the weekly gatherings at Mar-a-Lago have drawn some scrutiny from Democrats in the Senate, who called for Trump to release a list of all of the members.
“Your winter White House will provide an audience with you for those who can afford it, not to mention an increasing cash-flow into your family-run organization,” Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., wrote in a letter sent to Trump this month. “Instead of draining the swamp, it appears you’re bringing Washington right to the swamps at Mar-a-Lago."
“你的‘冬季白宫’向那些出得起钱的人提供了和你见面的机会，更别说还会为你的家族运营的机构带来现金流，”罗德岛州民主党参议员谢尔登·怀特豪斯(Sheldon Whitehouse)和新墨西哥州民主党参议员汤姆·尤德尔(Tom Udall)在本月发给特朗普的一封信中写道。“看上去你不是在抽干沼泽，而是在把华盛顿带入马阿拉歌那里的沼泽。”
One longtime member is Richard LeFrak, a fellow New York developer and one of Trump’s closest friends, who in turn has recruited some of his own friends to join. Jeff Greene, a Senate candidate in Florida in 2010, said he had joined at the urging of LeFrak.
加入该俱乐部已久的理查德·勒弗拉克(Richard LeFrak)是纽约的一名开发商，同时也是特朗普最亲密的朋友之一，他又招募了自己的几个朋友入会。在2010年竞选过弗罗里达州参议员的杰夫·格林(Jeff Greene)说，他是在勒弗拉克敦促下入会的。
But Mar-a-Lago, where Trump’s old New York circle blurs easily into his presidency, is a place where the president of the United States might seek guidance on a major government project the way another New Yorker might ask around for a good orthopedist.
When LeFrak paid a visit to Trump at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, he appeared a little startled when Trump, in a brief interlude during the conversation, told him that the Department of Homeland Security was quoting a price of more than $20 billion for the proposed border wall with Mexico.
“He said, would I consider doing it? And then he suggested that the price that was being quoted in the media seemed absurdly high to him,” LeFrak said. He is not interested in the work, but said, “And I didn’t react to him one way or the other because I don’t know what the facts are.”
LeFrak said to the president, “I thought you were going to have homeland security deal with this,” he recalled, describing Trump as stymied by the bureaucracy. “And he said, ‘Yes, maybe General Kelly will call you.'”