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Without 'Bad Boy' Clause, Palm Beach County Can't Terminate Trump's Golf Course Lease

When he leaves office and becomes a private citizen Wednesday, President Donald Trump is expected to fly to Florida and live at The Mar-a-Lago Club, his private resort in Palm Beach.

Just 4.5 miles away, Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach sits upon land that a Trump Organization affiliate leases from Palm Beach County for $88,338 per month. A county official last week looked into terminating that lease in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

President Donald J. Trump, professional golfer Lexi Thompson and radio commentator Rush Limbaugh in 2019 at the Trump International Golf Club.

Chief Assistant County Attorney Howard Falcon told the Palm Beach Post that a county commissioner, whom he did not name, had inquired about canceling the 99-year lease.

“My initial reaction is it would be a stretch,” Falcon said.

He said he examined the lease documents and found no so-called “bad boy” clause, which would allow for terminating the agreement based on certain triggers. The specific triggers, like criminal behavior or a failure to meet certain deadlines, are typically spelled out in such a clause.

An unnamed lawyer for Trump told the Post there was no basis for canceling the lease.

In the wake of the Capitol riot, PGA of America nixed plans to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump's golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to cancel leases between the city and Trump’s companies for two skating rinks at Central Park, the Central Park Carousel and a Trump golf course in the Bronx.

“The contracts make very clear if a company and the leadership of that company is engaged in criminal activity, we have the right to sever the contract, de Blasio said, adding that “inciting an insurrection against the United States government clearly constitutes criminal activity."

The Daily News opined that de Blasio’s pledge was largely symbolic since Trump hasn’t been found criminally liable for the Capitol riot, and three of the four city contracts are due to expire in April anyway. However, he may have grounds to terminate Trump’s 20-year lease for Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, which requires the course to attract major championship events, a now-unlikely prospect. Eric Trump threatened that if New York proceeds, it will end in a legal fight and the city owing The Trump Organization more than $30M.

Donald Trump will head to Palm Beach even though neighbors are complaining that residential use of the property violates a 1993 agreement that allowed the club to be used as a commercial enterprise. Since he bought Mar-a-Lago for $10M in 1985, Trump has feuded with officials and neighbors over airplane noise, flagpole heights, security costs and dock regulations.