While the rest of America rings in 2018 with a champagne toast, a New Year's kiss, or is already tucked into bed, some will be partying with the president. Trump usually spends New Year's Eve at his South Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, which hosts an annual dinner party for those with enough cash to attend. This year, the cost to spend New Year's Eve with Trump increased as the club prepares for a fancy event attended by the commander-in-chief.
Tickets to Mar-a-Lago's Dec. 31 dinner cost $525 for members and $575 for guests last New Year's Eve event, Politico reported, but this year's tickets rose to $600 for members and $750 for non-members. The resort sold more than 800 tickets to ring in 2017 with the president-elect and his family. Last year's event featured a cocktail hour, dinner, dancing, live music, and multiple celebrity guests, and the 2018 bash is likely to be a similarly glamorous affair.
Trump typically spends the holidays at Mar-a-Lago and refers to the resort as the "Winter White House," though the White House hasn't officially announced where he'll spend this New Year's Eve yet. Melania did say she'd like to spend the holidays on a deserted tropical island, and The Palm Beach Post reported she and 11-year-old Barron arrived at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday. Trump is expected to join them at the end of the week, according to Politico.
The resort was criticized last year for selling tickets to the party while the issue of how the president-elect would separate himself from his businesses was still up in the air. Hope Hicks, now the White House communications director, told Politico at the time, “The transition is not concerned about the appearance of a conflict." She added, "This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election. Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict."
Nevertheless, the expensive price tag then raised questions about potential conflicts of interest for the incoming president — and many of those questions remain a year later.
Although Trump technically turned over the family business to his sons, he didn't sell his company and still makes money off his many properties. Trump's 2017 financial disclosure released by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics revealed that he's still making money off the South Florida club. From January 2016 to April 2017, he made $37 million from Mar-a-Lago.
His financial disclosures show that he made $30 million on Mar-a-Lago in 2016 and $16 million the previous year. While the forms don't detail what influenced the rise in profits, his earnings have gone up since he campaigned for president.
Trump's ties to his business led almost 200 Democrats in Congress to sue the president for what they alleged were conflicts of interest. The lawsuit asserted that the Constitution's Emoluments Clause requires the president to ask Congress before accepting gifts and asked the court to prohibit the president from “accepting any benefits from foreign states without first obtaining Congressional consent.” Trump has denied having any conflicts of interest related to his family businesses.
Despite continued scrutiny surrounding how much Trump visits and profits from his properties, the Trump organization's ethics adviser, Bobby Burchfield, told Politico he doesn't see a problem with Mar-a-Lago selling expensive tickets to a New Year's Eve party. "I personally don’t see any issues that are raised,” he said. “It’s not a campaign event. It’s a normal business New Year’s Eve party.”
For Mar-a-Lago members and guests able to spend hundreds of dollars on a New Year's Eve party with the president, it will certainly be a memorable start to 2018.