Trump Organization asks Palm Beach County about private club land lease payments amid closures
Golf and Politics

Trump Organization asks Palm Beach County about private club land lease payments amid closures

The Trump Organization, like businesses throughout the United States, is feeling the strain of executive orders throughout the country which have shuttered businesses while Americans are asked or required by law to remain at home.

With the Trump Organization heavily involved in real estate and hospitality, they're feeling the pinch of having to close their hotels, resorts, retail and commercial space, as well the private clubs -- including some frequented by President Donald Trump.

In particular, Trump's properties in Florida have been hit hard.

Trump National Doral in South Florida laid off nearly 600 employees as the resort was closed. Miami-Dade County also required golf courses to close, meaning even the resort's courses couldn't operate separately while guests were not allowed on property.

For Trump, some of his private clubs have been able to keep some of them open pending regulations in states where they're located. Trump's two private Florida clubs, however, are located in Palm Beach County, which, like Miami-Dade, has closed private and public golf courses.

As the order was coming down from the county government for golf facilities to close, the Trump Organization began its outreach to county officials to see how they would need to handle monthly land lease payments.

The Trump Organization leases the land on which Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach -- the club Trump visits when he stays at his nearby Mar-a-Lago club -- from Palm Beach County. Agreements signed in 1996 and 2002 require the club to pay a combined $88,338 per month for leasing the land on which an 18-hole course and a nine-hole course sit.

On March 25, with his Florida clubs' restaurants and bars already closed by statewide order from Governor Ron DeSantis, the Trump Organization emailed Palm Beach County's real estate management department to ask if the payments still needed to be made. Trump's company was curious if the required closure could be considered forced by force majuere, a Latin term often colloquially referred to as an "act of God." Legal agreements often have language handling these unforeseen and often unpreventable situations. However, these lease agreements do not have language covering pandemics, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Of course, that creates an awkward situation for Palm Beach County, as the President has significant influence over politics and could influence how long businesses are encouraged to remain closed to the public. Trump cannot require Governor DeSantis to keep his executive orders in place or lift them sooner, but he can use his political position to potentially influence how his club would be treated at a state level or a county level.

The county is still determining how to handle the situation for its lease agreements throughout the area, not just with the Trump Organization. The dialogue with the county continues over a potential agreement in short-term and long-term situations, but the Trump Organization did make its April payment.

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