How Donald Trump turned Florida into his political playland

Fox News' biggest stars have bought homes near Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida

By Jon Skolnik
Published June 10, 2021 11:41AM (EDT)
Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Brad Parscale and Sean Spicer (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Brad Parscale and Sean Spicer (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

With Trump finally ejected from the White House and formally dislodged from social media, the former president, now stripped of his many megaphones, has quietly sought respite down South. He's rallied nearly all of his political allies to the sun-kissed coast of Florida to his Mar-a-Lago resort, manufacturing what some might say is his own political playland. 

According to a new Bloomberg Businessweek report, a vast number of Trump's political allies have, since Trump's swift exit from office, sallied down to south Florida to become permanent fixtures of the former president's ecosystem, trying to preserve whatever political inertia remains behind Trump.

The mass exodus from D.C. was set off even before Trump had acknowledged he'd lost the election. Back in December, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner moved into a $32 million mansion in Indian Creek, a "guarded and gated" island just north of Miami Beach. Sean Hannity, a Fox News anchor who gets paid $25 million a year to perform what some might plainly say is Trump stenography, also hopped on the bandwagon, laying claim to a $5.3 million coastal home just two miles from Mar-a-Lago. Hannity's Fox News colleague Neil Cavuto joined the fold as well, buying up a $7.25 million penthouse just outside of Palm Beach, where Trump's personal resort and the nexus of the former president's new political enclave is located. Also among the cadre is Hogan Gidley, a former White House spokesman; Stephen Miller, Trump's senior policy advisor; and Avi Berkowitz, the former special representative for international negotiations.

"Think about how utterly bizarre that is," Eddie Vale, a Democratic strategist, told Bloomberg Businessweek, remarking on the rash of the sudden relocations. "It's like if Rachel Maddow and the Pod Save America guys all bought condos in Chicago because they wanted to be close to Barack Obama."

Sean Spicer, who had a tumultuous six-month stint as the former White House press secretary back in 2017, told Bloomberg Businessweek that south Florida has something of Trump's "Disney World."

"I can shoot the show in Boca, go to see the president, go to a fundraiser, and do eight other things while I'm down there," he explained. "There's a lot of attractions."

Back in January, Miller explained the appeal of the Sunshine State in more political terms. "Florida is really the perfect place to be the new HQ of the MAGA movement and a launching pad for the president's next endeavor," he told the Washington Examiner.

Some have speculated that Trump's magnetic ability to keep his political network close has less to do with the man himself and more to do with his administration's stigma. Back in April, Insider reported that a number of ex-Trump aides were finding themselves in a "job desert" following Trump's exit from office, and namely, the Capitol riot on January 6. 

Sam Nunberg, a Trump campaign aide, told Bloomberg Businessweek that many Trump boosters "have nowhere else to go." He asked: "What else are they going to do?"

It remains unclear precisely just what Trump is hatching up from Mar-a-Lago, though the former president has openly said that he intends to continue exerting political influence. From afar, Trump has issued casual imprimaturs of conservative hopefuls in various gubernatorial races, including Texas incumbent Gregg Abbott, R, and Arkansas challenger Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump's former White House press secretary. The former president has also endorsed various U.S. Senate candidates, including Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., Mo Brooks, R-Ala., Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Trump has also signaled a potential presidential bid in 2024, despite having bandied the constitutionally baseless narrative that he will be reinstated by August of this year.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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