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OpinionColumnistsLane Filler

How the Trumps could really cash in

I’m increasingly more surprised about what President Donald Trump and his family haven’t done to make money than what they have.

A White House staff member adjusts the presidential

A White House staff member adjusts the presidential seal before an event on the South Lawn in December. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / Andrew Harrer

Many Americans, the ones who still retain the spirit necessary to muster outrage, are pretty teed off at The Trump Organization’s plan to place tee markers bearing the presidential seal at its golf courses.

ProPublica reported Monday that The Trump Organization placed an order for dozens of 12-inch plates bearing the official bald-eagle emblazoned presidential seal, apparently for one or more of the four Trump International golf courses. They would mark where golfers tee off at each hole.

We’re supposed to shake off our numbed state and be furious about this and other Trump attempts to use the office for pimping influence and grabbing cash. But I’m increasingly more surprised about what President Donald Trump and his family haven’t done to make money than what they have. This is the greatest showman on Earth, the P.T. Barnum of our time. Where are the glitz, the imagination, the amphibious armored vehicles transporting billions to Switzerland? Let’s talk about the financial opportunities Trump has not seized.

CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and even Fox News are making a mint selling commercials that run during news programs that people watch mostly because of Trump. Why are he and his appointees appearing for free on all the shows he does not even own? People are viewing the news more than ever, albeit through a haze of tears and vodka, thanks to Trump. Yet others reap the rewards.

The real money play is for Trump to start “The Presidency Show,” from which he could earn ad revenue himself as owner, star and executive producer. Trump could just air that show on a state-controlled network like Fox News, say, 24 hours a day, and never appear on any other network, nor let his appointees do so.

Then there are the lodging opportunities. Trump is one of the world’s great hoteliers, yet he is barely cashing in.

Sure, he’s making money renting rooms in his Washington hotel to big-shot lobbyists and foreign officials who want to curry favor, on publicly owned land he leases, which is against a truly impressive variety of laws. But the real money would be in renting all those White House rooms. Heck, if a couple of amateurs like Bill Clinton and Al Gore could make bank doing it, imagine what Trump could earn, particularly since he’s never there on weekends.

He could rent the Oval Office for coal-industry conferences. He could lease the Rose Garden for weddings and bar mitzvahs — and throw in military bands for a few bucks. They’re his bands. It’s his nation.

And just think what Trump could earn with naming rights. That’s where the real money is.

Trump could start calling the Army the Built Ford Tough Army, and charge the automaker a set fee every time he said it. Ditto the Boston Whaler Navy, and the Boeing Air Force.

He could even sell naming rights to laws. The “Smith & Wesson Concealed and Open Carry Act” has quite a ring to it. Or the “Wells Fargo Abolition of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Trump rides in motorcades daily, and Secret Service cars don’t have logos on them. He oughta NASCAR those things up, and add some stickers besides the presidential seal to his own ride. And he needs to eat his Big Macs and KFC in public, so he can get paid for the placement.

Trump and his family are taking advantage, it’s true, with shady overseas deals and a constant use of political power to further personal fortunes. Cashing in on the presidential seal is such a chiseler move, it’s practically a caricature. But they could do so much more.

Of course they’re not even 14 months in. Chances are, in the next 34 months, they will.

Lane Filler is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.


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