WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump took out a new 30-year mortgage on a sprawling oceanfront house steps from his own Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and it is sitting empty on the rental market, according to financial disclosures made public on Thursday by the Office of Government Ethics.
The US$18.5 million West Palm Beach mansion was purchased in May 2018 from one of Trump’s older sisters and was secured with an US$11.2 million mortgage that has a 4.5% interest rate, Florida public records show.
Trump disclosed the loan as a liability in financial disclosure forms filed this week.
A real estate website lists the eight-bedroom house, which is near the Mar-a-Lago beachfront estate and private club in Palm Beach, as available for rent for about US$81,000 a month.
The Palm Beach Daily News reported that the president’s two adult sons, Eric and Don Jr., who are running his business while he is in office, bought the more than 10,000-square-foot (930-square-meter) house last year from Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge.
Beginning in 2023, the interest rate can be increased, but is capped at a 2-percentage-point increase a year, according to mortgage documents filed with the county.
The White House declined to comment on the filings.
The financial disclosures are mandated by law and offer a peek into the president’s sprawling finances.
Unlike all other modern presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which would offer a clearer picture of how much money he is bringing in.
Democrats in Congress are working to try to obtain a copy of Trump’s income tax returns, but so far the administration has resisted demands.
The disclosures give a glimpse of the number of properties he and his businesses own.
Trump reported that his income from his multitude of business operations remained largely flat, with some of his resort and golf clubs doing better and others producing less income for him.
A handful of companies, however, did cease operation. One of the biggest drops was for Trump Productions LLC, the production company that oversaw his television show The Apprentice. In 2017, Trump reported US$2 million in income from the company but only about US$280,000 in 2018.
Trump Model Management, which is described as a modeling agency, shuttered entirely. He reported about US$715,000 from the agency in 2017 and only US$547 in ‘residual’ income.
Last year’s report filed by Trump listed him as holding a position on 565 separate companies. This year’s report only listed one, Trump Corporation.
Last year in May, Trump’s disclosure form made public for the first time that he repaid more than US$100,000 to former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who had paid hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels about an affair she alleges to have had years before with the president.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in December for his role in making illegal payments to women to help Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. Cohen reported to prison earlier this month.
The disclosure released in May 2018 also showed that Trump received more than US$25 million in income in 2017 from Mar-a-Lago and more than US$15 million in income from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump spends time and vacations at both clubs and sells memberships to Mar-a-Lago. His continued ownership of the golf venues has been criticised by opponents, who say it blends personal and public business, allowing him to profit from the presidency.