As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, Mar-a-Lago is being evacuated, and the storm’s damage to the resort will likely be a hefty sum.

While insurance is expected to cover the damages to the Palm Beach resort, insurance providers have cause to be wary. After all, 45* got $17 million in insurance claim money after Hurricane Wilma — to cover damages no one seems to remember except him.

The Associated Press reports that Trump admitted to transferring some of that payout to his private accounts.

“Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion,” 45 listed the damage. “It’s still not what it was.”

But 45’s longtime former butler, Anthony Senecal, said the resort lost only some roof tiles to Hurricane Wilma. In fact, Mar-a-Lago has never significantly felt a hurricane impact.

“That house has never been seriously damaged,” Senecal said. “I was there for all of them.”

Local rules require major repairs to receive a permit and pay associated fees totaling as much as $450,000. Not filing these permits for extensive repairs would be illegal.

And unlikely. Then-Planning Administrator for Palm Beach Tim Frank told AP that wealthy Palm Beach residents have a habit of calling out one another’s code violations, including hiring lawyers once to report guests illegally sleeping in poolside cabanas at Mar-a-Lago. That, combined with his own agency’s vigilance, makes such extensive repairs going undocumented unlikely.

“If there were $17 million dollars of damage, we sure as hell would have known about that,” said Frank. “I would have known if there was anything in the magnitude of $100,000.”

In fact, city officials ranging from a former mayor (a Mar-a-Lago member) to the former city historian were mystified, remembering no such damage.

As part of a 2007 deposition in a libel lawsuit, Trump was asked to justify pocketing part of the insurance payout and quantify damages suffered by Wilma. He not only could not remember where the hurricane made landfall, but could not remember what hurricane it was.

“We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane,” Trump said.

Perhaps, after Irma, insurance adjusters should look closely at the Winter White House’s damage.

(*EDITOR’S NOTE: is now exclusively referring to Donald Trump as “45.” Please read our official statement on Twitter explaining the decision.)


Katelyn Kivel is a journalist and political scientist from Kalamazoo, Michigan who has specialized in law, policy and government reporting over the course of her career. Follow her on Twitter @katelynkivel.


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