Watchdog group files complaint on Mar-a-Lago promotion

A watchdog group filed an ethics complaint with the government Tuesday over the State Department's apparent promotion of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

“State Department use of resources to promote a private business owned by President Trump constitutes a misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, wrote in a letter.

Flynn sent Tuesday’s letter to the State Department and the Office of Government Ethics, urging both to “conduct an investigation and to take disciplinary action” if warranted.

On Monday, a blog post on Trump’s luxury resort that was on the official website of State’s embassy and consulates in the United Kingdom gained attention. 

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The April 5 blog post detailed the history of Mar-a-Lago, noting that the founder willed the estate to the U.S. government in 1973. But it did not specify that the federal government ultimately returned Mar-a-Lago to founder Marjorie Merriweather Post’s estate, nor that Trump had purchased the resort in 1983.

The writeup was originally posted on ShareAmerica, described as State’s “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate."

But the post on Trump’s “winter White House” was taken down Monday night after many expressed concerns that the U.S. government was promoting Trump's private resort. 

"The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders,” the web page now reads. “We regret any misperception and have removed the post.”

Ethics groups have warned about the potential conflict of interest presented by the private Florida resort, and Trump has repeatedly faced criticism for potential conflicts of interest between his administration and his vast business empire.

Common Cause, the group filing the complaint, works “to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest,” according to a Tuesday statement about its letter.