A Palm Beach County official this week examined a contract with a Trump Organization affiliate to see if the county could end its lease with the president’s signature Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach.
Howard Falcon, chief assistant county attorney, told The Palm Beach Post on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, he was asked by an unnamed county commissioner about whether the lease with Trump International Golf Club could be canceled.
Falcon said he does not think the county can end its lease with Trump, who pays $88,338 a month in rent for the property.
“My initial reaction is it would be a stretch,” Falcon said.
A lawyer for Trump’s golf course on Thursday said he had spoken to Falcon and there was “no basis for canceling the lease.” The lawyer asked not to be identified by name.
Palm Beach County’s move to explore severing business ties to Trump follows actions by private and government entities elsewhere in the country.
Trump International Golf Club is Trump’s go-to spot when he stays at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach estate. He also hosts his annual Super Bowl parties at the course and has golfed at the club with foreign dignitaries, members of Congress, and administration officials. He also played the course with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and celebrities such as Kid Rock.
Trump owns two golf courses in South Florida: Trump National Doral in Miami-Dade County, and Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, the former Ritz Carlton Golf Club.
But Trump International Golf Club, which was built on land leased from the county, is the one he visits the most.
The county’s move followed Trump’s role in inciting last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol that ended with one police officer killed, lawmakers fearing for their lives, and Trump impeached for a second time.
A view of Trump International Golf Club from the roof of the jail on Jan. 6, 2000.
It also follows a decision by the PGA of America to take the PGA Championship event away from Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J., just days after the Capitol riots.
According to the New York Times, Trump was “gutted” by the PGA’s decision because Trump for years has been trying to get PGA events at his courses. And the PGA Championship is one of the four major annual championships in professional golf.
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Doesn’t appear to be a ‘bad boy’ clause in Trump’s West Palm course contract
Falcon said documents between Trump and Palm Beach County for the golf club on Summit Boulevard do not contain a provision called a “bad boy” clause.
This clause can terminate a contract in the event of bad behavior that typically is spelled out. This could include bad acts, including but not limited to fraud or criminal matters, or even not filing paperwork in a timely manner.
Falcon said he told an unnamed commissioner he didn’t think there was anything in the documents with Trump that would permit the cancellation of the lease.
Palm Beach County follows similar moves in New York and Washington
The suggestion by the unidentified county commissioner resembles similar efforts by local and federal officials to review contracts with Trump’s businesses in New York and Washington.
In New York, the mayor said on Wednesday the city would cancel contracts with the Trump Organization. They include two ice-skating rinks at Central Park, the Central Park Carousel, and the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a city-owned golf course in the Bronx.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was severing ties with the Trump Organization because Trump incited violence at the Capitol.
“Inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government clearly constitutes criminal activity,” de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday. “The City of New York will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organization.”
A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, Amanda Miller, vowed to fight the decision.
“The City of New York has no legal right to end our contracts and if they elect to proceed, they will owe the Trump Organization over $30 million,” she said in a statement. “This is nothing more than political discrimination, an attempt to infringe on the First Amendment and we plan to fight vigorously.”
And in Washington, there is speculation over whether a clause in a contract between Trump and the federal government, which owns the Old Post Office where the Trump International Hotel was built, would allow the government to end its lease to Trump.
The clause says Trump would be in violation of the contract if he is under investigation by any government entity for alleged criminal activities, meaning D.C. or the federal government.
The history behind Trump’s golf course in the West Palm Beach area
Trump’s lease of Palm Beach County land dates back to the 1990s and a $75 million lawsuit against the county, prompted by Trump’s ire about the noise from planes flying over Mar-a-Lago from Palm Beach International Airport.
The lawsuit was resolved in 1996 with a long lease on 214 acres of county land just south of the airport. In 2002, the county struck a deal to lease Trump more land for a nine-hole course. The 99-year lease agreements require Trump to make monthly payments that have increased over the years to $54,534 for the main 18-hole golf course and $33,804 for the smaller, nine-hole course.
Trump International Golf Club, which opened in 2000, was designed by Jim Fazio Golf Design and Trump. It features 35-foot-tall rock formations, waterfalls, and a clubhouse and was built next to the Palm Beach County Jail.
The course hosted an LPGA event for eight years from 2001-08, with the tour’s biggest names participating and Trump taking an active role, playing in the tournament’s pro-am event and mingling with the golfers. Annika Sorenstam, considered one of the greatest golfers in history, won the tournament in 2002, 2004, and 2005.