By: David A. Fahrenthold, WashingtonPost.com
May 15, 2020 at 1:35 p.m. EDT
The Secret Service this week signed a $179,000 contract to rent golf carts and other vehicles this summer in Bedminster, N.J., according to federal spending records — a rental that in past years was made in advance of President Trump’s visits to his golf club there.
The golf carts are being rented from a private vendor, New York-based Associates Golf Car Service, which has supplied similar equipment to the Secret Service in Bedminster every year of Trump’s presidency.
The rental deal was signed Monday, went into effect Tuesday and lasts until Oct. 31, according to records posted online in a public database of federal spending.
The contract does not say whether Trump plans to visit the Bedminster club soon. The Secret Service also protects his family, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her family have already visited the club this year, despite stay-at-home orders in Washington and New Jersey, as the New York Times reported.
The Secret Service and the golf-cart company both declined to comment. The White House, the Trump Organization and the general manager of the Bedminster club did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
Trump has visited his properties 250 times as president, including 22 visits to Bedminster, according to a tally by The Washington Post. But he has not been to any of them since March 8 — the longest absence of his term — as the coronavirus pandemic has shut down travel and consumed his presidency.
Secret Service paid Trump’s D.C. hotel more than $33,000 for lodging to guard treasury secretary
If Trump returned to the Bedminster club today, he would find it largely shut down because of coronavirus measures imposed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D). The club had to close entirely for 46 days, then reopened only its golf courses on May 2 after Murphy allowed outdoor activities to resume.
Even after the golf courses reopened, the club warned its members against socializing.
“Under no circumstances will any type of congregating or gathering be allowed in parking lots or on the golf course,” the club cautioned members in an email, according to a copy obtained by The Post.
When he visits, Trump stays in a detached cottage on the club’s grounds, and Murphy’s order does not seem to prohibit him from visiting there. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment.
In the past, Trump has frequently left the cottage to visit the main clubhouse, socializing with members in the restaurant and dropping in on weddings in the ballroom. Those buildings are now closed.
In previous years the Secret Service has rented space from Trump’s company, paying $17,000 per month for a four-room cottage at the Bedminster club near Trump’s own.
Those payments are among more than $970,000 that the U.S. government has paid to Trump’s company since he took office, often to rent space for the aides and Secret Service agents that accompany the president.
Trump’s company has received at least $970,000 from U.S. taxpayers for room rentals
It was unclear whether those rental payments to Trump’s company will continue this year. They are not listed in public databases, as the golf-cart rentals are.
The contract between the Secret Service and Associates Golf Car was spotted by American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC that supports Democrats. Earlier this year, the same group identified a similar Secret Service contract, to rent golf carts to be used in the town that is home to Trump’s Northern Virginia golf club.
Trump has not visited that club in Sterling since the contract was signed in late March.
In Bedminster, this year’s contract between the Secret Service and Associates Golf Car is more than in past years. The Secret Service paid the company $118,000 in 2018 and $95,000 in 2019, according to federal records posted online.
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