WASHINGTON — Whether the Trump administration wants to call Mar-a-Lago the Winter White House, the Southern White House, the Weekend White House or something else altogether, some Democrats are now demanding that they treat the parade of visitors coming and going from there like their predecessors largely treated the regular White House itself — by actually recording their names.
A group of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to force the White House to create an online database of every person who visits the White House, the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory and anywhere else Trump “regularly conducts official business,” such as his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
The Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness, or Mar-a-Lago, Act, would allow for a few exceptions, including for security concerns and “purely personal” visitors.
Democratic Sens. Tom Udall, of New Mexico, Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, of Rhode Island, and Tom Carper, of Delaware, unveiled the legislation in the Senate on Friday, while Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois did the same in the House.
“The American people have a right to know who has access to the President and who has leverage over this administration,” Udall said in a statement announcing the bill.
Under President Barack Obama, the White House maintained a visitor page on its website and said it had released about 6 million records. The Obama administration created the online database voluntarily, but made exceptions for some disclosures. Notably, the President and first lady Michelle Obama on more than one occasion held private parties and invited celebrities, including the late-artist Prince, without disclosing details of the private events to the press.
The White House under Trump has not yet published such records or offered information about members of his club at Mar-a-Lago.
The White House’s visitor records page said as of Sunday that it is “being updated,” which is what the page has said since the beginning of the Trump administration.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration has called Mar-a-Lago the “Winter White House” and, now that winter has come to a close, the “Southern White House.” Critics, like the Democrats who put forward this bill, say the paid memberships at Mar-a-Lago constitute the purchase of access to the President.
Since taking office, Trump has spent several weekends there, including during a visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He faced criticism when he spoke with Abe as well as his staff in the dining room at Mar-a-Lago following a North Korean missile test.
Additionally, one man at Mar-a-Lago posted photographs that he claimed were of himself and an aide tasked with carrying the nuclear football — a briefcase that enables the commander-in-chief to authorize a nuclear strike.
The bill comes as the latest in a slew of proposals from Democrats on Trump’s personal finances and activities.
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, for example, submitted the “No Trump Act of 2017” to prohibit the federal government from paying expenses at any Trump hotels, and Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey introduced a resolution directing Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, to release Trump’s tax returns.