“The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration Thursday on the National Mall, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement,” The Washington Post is reporting.
“Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the National Mall this year, which the president has dubbed “Salute to America.” The two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed the transfer of the Park Service funds Tuesday.
“The diversion of the park fees represents just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result the event, which also includes expansive displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics display. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.
The White House is also distributing VIP tickets for Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial to Republican donors and political appointees, prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers who argue the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.
“The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.
“‘We’ve never seen anything like this,’ Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, said in a phone interview. ‘No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.’
“The White House referred questions about the celebration to the Interior Department, which declined to comment.”
Note: The Washington Post reported this article, and it ran in the San Francisco Chronicle.