Hours after a U.S. Senator accused the Trump Administration of using taxpayer dollars to promote President Donald Trump's private club in Florida, the State Department pulled down a story written by government employees about the resort, what some ethics experts said was nothing more than an advertisement for Mr. Trump's personal business interests.
"Use of public office for private gain pure and simple," said Richard Painter, a former White House ethics attorney for President George W. Bush.
"Realtor.com -- not the State Department-- should help President Trump sell club memberships for $200,000," Painter added on Twitter.
At issue was a post done by an internal unit at the State Department about the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, lavishing praise on its history, much like a vacation brochure.
"I am curious," tweeted Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). "Why are taxpayer dollars promoting the President's private country club?"
The State Department was silent about the post, but after it began to ricochet around social media - and in the political arena - the story was removed from the "Share America" platform, which can be used by diplomatic posts around the world to highlight American items of interest.
"The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders," a statement read on the Share America website, which is run by the State Department.
"We regret any misperception and have removed the post."
"One Trump emolument down. Soon to follow: many more," said Trump critic and ethics expert Norm Eisen.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.