Democrats introduce Make Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act – or MAR-A-LAGO Act - demanding transparency from Trump

'By refusing to release the White House visitor logs, President Trump is only validating the rampant concerns about who may be pulling the levers in his administration,' says New Mexico politician

Harriet Agerholm@HarrietAgerholm
Saturday 25 March 2017 02:13
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The Florida resort dubbed the 'Winter White House'
The Florida resort dubbed the 'Winter White House'

Democrats in the Senate are ramping-up pressure on the Trump administration to release visitor logs of where the President conducts official business by introducing a bill named after Mr Trump’s luxury Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

The Make Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act – or MAR-A-LAGO Act – demands the administration publish records for the White House “or any other location where Donald Trump regularly conducts official business.”

It emerged in March that since becoming US President, Mr Trump had spent around a quarter of his time as President in his Palm Beach estate.

Sean Spicer: Less trips for Trump to Mar-A-Lago to save taxpayer money is "a vast reach"

The Obama administration had a policy of making visitor records public three to four months after they were created and the Democrats have said they expect to see the Mr Trump’s logs as soon as 20 April, if the administration is to continue with the procedure.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, who is leading the push for the act, said: “By refusing to release the White House visitor logs, President Trump is only validating the rampant concerns about who may be pulling the levers in his administration.

“The President should end his administration’s disturbing pattern of stonewalling information and immediately reinstate the previous administration’s policy of publishing White House visitor logs.”

Although his Mar-a-Lago resort is a 15-hour drive from the White House, the 126-room estate has been described as an outpost of American government and the President has taken to referring to the complex as his “Winter White House”.

Mr Trump had an al fresco briefing on a North Korean missile launch in February at the resort, alongside Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The President has also entertained health care industry executives there.

The group of Democrats are likely to find it difficult to get the legislation passed the GOP-controlled Congress, where Democrats will need to win Republican support to get any bill through.

“Effective government is dependent on public trust, but unfortunately, the Trump Administration is missing that key ingredient," said Representative Mike Quigley, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus.

“With each passing day, the American people’s confidence in our President decreases, and it is no surprise given the administration’s efforts to roll back productive policies that increase openness and improve transparency.”

While Mr Trump and his family enjoy private quarters in a closed-off area of the grounds, the resort is also home to a members club. The Mar-a-Lago Club’s members include real estate developers, energy executives and Wall Street financiers.

Executive director of the Sunlight Foundation John Wonderlich, who is backing the Democratic bill, said Congress must force the administration to publish the records if Mr Trump refuses to do it voluntarily.

“As long as President Trump continues to conduct public business in his private business, the same standards of disclosure should apply to Mar-a-Lago as the White House,“ he said.

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