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Park Service Will Have to Use Funds Meant for Park Improvements to Cover Cost of Trump's July 4 Celebration
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3 Jul 2019 06:42 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Armored tanks being delivered for July 4 celebration (Image source: Screenshot) 

 

Donald Trump has been dreaming of a huge Independence Day celebration moving into his reelection campaign, and it seems it's really more or less a big political rally for him, though instead of his campaign or fundraisers paying for it, this huge celebration is being paid for by the National Park Service, using funds that were earmarked for park improvements.

 

But this is what Trump is known for, using other people's money to get what he wants. It's unknown how much of that he's done in his personal life, as he won't let anyone see his finances, but what has been turned up shows him losing money and not having what he has reported to be holding 

Earlier this year, however, this is how he finally got the financing for his border wall. He didn't earn it, and it wasn't given to him. He took it. He declared an emergency and took the money from the Defense Department. When he wanted to sell arms to Saudi Arabia to help in his fight against Iran, he overstepped Congress and again declared an emergency.

 

Trump, who is known as a billionaire, wanted a big expensive July 4 celebration in Washington, but he's not funding it himself. The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees, that are intended to improve parks, to cover the cost of his celebration on the Mall, according to two sources who are familiar with the financial arrangement. 

When asked, Trump administration officials have refused to say how much taxpayers will be ponying up for this big party, referred to as "Salute to America" by Trump.

 

Reportedly, the fees that were diverted from the Park Service is just one small part of the costs the government faces because of this celebration. It will include military hardware, flyovers that include Air Force One, armored tanks, and a pyrotechnics show. 

Former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvi reports that the typical Mall Independence Day celebrations cost around $2 million.

 

When the president gives a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, he'll be flanked by Republican donors and his political appointees, after VIP tickets were passed out among them. Democratic lawmakers argued Trump has turned it into a rally. 

"We've never seen anything like this," said the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment, and related agencies, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). "No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars."

 

Along with the military tanks, flyovers, and pyrotechnics, the White House was in negotiations with the Park Service over projecting a 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission image onto the Washington Monument. Typically, however, they don't allow projected images onto monuments or historic structures. 

With nearly 5 percent of the park service funds that were used last year for upgrades being transferred for the celebration, the president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, Theresa Pierno, feels it's a "breach of trust with the public."

 

"The public pays parks fees to fix national parks and for educational programs, not the president's parade." 

With regard to the VIP tickets that were passed out to donors and other political appointees, the federal reform director for the Campaign Legal Center, Brendan Fischer, said it may not violate federal ethics law, but "it certainly looks bad."

 

"Limiting public access to a public monument on Independence Day in favor of wealthy donors just sends a signal that our political system favors the wealthy and well-connected," he said. 

Regardless of his efforts to bring in donors and his appointees, Trump will have at least one uninvited guest. A group has received permission for the Trump baby balloon to be at a July 4 celebration that is nearby Trump's extravaganza.

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