Trump’s Palm Beach neighbors offering scant support

Filed under FLORIDA, POLITICS

BY DAN SWEENEY
SUN SENTINEL/TNS

PALM BEACH – Donald Trump may have won Palm Beach County in the primary, but his neighbors appear to be at a loss as to their feelings about it.

Donald Trump owns Mar-a-Lago Club, a resort in Palm Beach.(CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS)

Donald Trump owns Mar-a-Lago Club, a resort in Palm Beach.
(CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS)

In Pastry Heaven on Worth Avenue, a tuna fish sandwich comes with a side of exasperated sighs and begrudging acquiescence when fellow diners are asked about Trump, who has had several run-ins with the town.

Two blocks away at the local Sunoco station, where young men in khaki shorts and sky-blue polo shirts still pump gas for the residents, an elderly woman in a black Mercedes perhaps summed up the mood best.

“I think he’s a very vulgar type,” said the woman, who did not want to be named because she did not want to be seen as a gossip. “But I suppose he’s our vulgar type.”

No contributions
Precinct-by-precinct totals in Palm Beach County have not yet been released, but campaign finance records indicate a lack of enthusiasm from those closest to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

Nobody in a two-block radius of Trump’s estate has contributed to his campaign, according to federal campaign contribution records.

Homeowners in Palm Beach’s Estates Section, where high hedges conceal mansions worth seven and eight figures, instead gave to Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.

Of course, Trump has maintained that his campaign is entirely self-funded — no donations necessary since he has loaned himself $24 million so far.

But Trump’s campaign website has the same “Donate” button as every other campaign. And so far, his campaign has taken in almost $10 million in individual contributions.

Five local donors
Hundreds of donations have flowed from across Florida, mostly small stuff — $10 from Boca Raton, $97 from New Port Richey. Just five of Palm Beach’s 10,000 residents gave to Trump’s campaign, according to federal election records.

Among them, two have donated $1,000 – Paul Rampell, who successfully sued the town last year for denying his plan to build a modernist home, and Roxanne Pulitzer, who became persona non grata on the island after her 1980s divorce that took on a circus-like atmosphere. Neither they nor Trump could be reached for comment.

Since he bought Mar-a-Lago for $10 million in 1985, Trump’s relationship with the city’s powerful could also most generously be described as checkered.

Flagpole fines
When Trump converted Mar-a-Lago to a private club in the late 1980s, the city unsuccessfully tried to place numerous restrictions on it to protect the residential neighborhood. Trump claimed the Old Guard was upset because the club allowed all races and religions.

Two decades later, in 2006, the town issued daily fines when Trump erected an 80-foot flagpole on Mar-a-Lago’s grounds. He then attacked town council members for a lack of patriotism.

Eventually, the flagpole was lowered to 70 feet, in exchange for which Trump paid no fines.

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