The US embassy in London has taken down a web page publicising Donald Trump’s country club at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, triggering outrage as the latest example of the blurring of lines between public institutions and the president’s business interests under the new administration.
The web posts gave details of the opulent past of the eight hectare estate and 114-room mansion, built in 1927 for a cereal heiress and socialite, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who willed it to the US government in 1973. However, neither Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter used it and it was returned to private ownership in 1981.
The website suggested that “Post’s dream of a winter White House came true with Trump’s election in 2016”.
The use of the state department website for such publicity was denounced by the president’s critics and government ethics experts.
Norman Eisen, who was special counsel for ethics and government reform in the Obama White House, said the web page broke federal regulations because the state department and embassies “are using official channels to promote a private business, which happens to be that of their ultimate superior, the president”.
“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders,” a state department official said. “We regret any misperception and have removed the post.”