(ANTIMEDIA) — On September 29, two days before Donald Trump ignited controversy by honoring hurricane-battered Puerto Ricans with a golf trophy, the Secret Service spent $61,960 to rent golf carts to protect the president and his family while he vacations, USA Today reported Thursday.
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The media outlet, which reviewed federal purchase orders, writes that in total, the Secret Service has spent $137,505 so far this year renting golf carts at resorts in Florida and New Jersey. It was at a tournament at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City on October 1 that Trump dedicated a trophy to Puerto Rico.
Speaking from the stage, Trump acknowledged that the citizens of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, are facing a “horrible” situation. The president insisted, however, that the United States federal government had it all “under really great control” before honoring Puerto Ricans with the award.
“And we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much that we love, a part of our great state, really a part of our great nation,” Trump said that Sunday.
Trump’s insistence that the U.S. has been handling Puerto Rico’s situation appropriately — and the effectively meaningless gesture of honoring crisis-stricken people with a golf trophy — sparked controversy.
Not helping matters was the fact the media was already laser-focused on Trump-Puerto Rico relations. The day before the tournament, on Saturday, September 30, the president directly criticized the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, for her “poor leadership ability” in responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Trump’s much-hyped visit to the commonwealth on Tuesday was also heavily criticized. The visit, which San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz called “insulting” to Puerto Ricans, saw the U.S. president tossing paper towels and other provisions to hurricane victims in a seemingly carefree manner.
The president’s love of golf, and the way in which he injected it into Puerto Rico’s crisis, currently has the mainstream media using the sport as a vehicle to comment on the man — hence reports such as the one from USA Today.
As some outlets continue to hone in on the fact that Trump golfed while Puerto Ricans suffered, others are arguing over just how good the president’s game is. Still others, such as NPR, are shining light on Trump’s failed golf-related business venture in Puerto Rico.
On the subject of golf carts, USA Today reports that the $61,960 spent by the Secret Service in September is the largest payout of 2017. The monthly contracts the agency signs have previously never exceeded around $18,000, the news outlet says.