(Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)

President Trump never properly separated himself from his businesses, giving anyone with enough money an opportunity to influence the US government. And a new investigation by USA Today pulls back the curtain on who’s buying their way into Trump’s golf courses using some clever investigative techniques: Reporters at the paper used social media and public golf websites to follow the money.

USA Today scoured public social media posts to figure out who was attending President Trump’s most frequented clubs, including those in New Jersey, the suburbs of Washington DC, and his club in Palm Beach, Florida. Initiation fees top $100,000 and that’s not including other annual fees that mean only the most wealthy can belong. The reporters then started to compare those names to public websites where people can track their handicaps, like the US Golf Association site.

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From there, they checked the occupations of people who were members at Trump’s club and began compiling lists of who might have business with the government. They discovered over 4,500 names and found dozens of lobbyists, trade group execs, and business executives with lucrative contracts from the federal government.

From USA Today:

Among Trump club members are top executives of defense contractors, a lobbyist for the South Korean government, a lawyer helping Saudi Arabia fight claims over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the leader of a pesticide trade group that sought successfully to persuade the Trump administration not to ban an insecticide government scientists linked to health risks.

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The list goes on and on, and despite the fact that many of the people that USA Today contacted denied discussing business with the president, everyone knows that golf serves a vital social function in American business. Talking business out on the golf course is a cliche for a reason. Most people that USA Today contacted wouldn’t comment for its story.

As USA Today notes, Trump’s golf courses may be his most profitable business, raking in roughly $600 million per year. But we have no idea how much money Trump is personally taking in, nor who he owes money to, because the president is the first in modern history not to release his tax returns.

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President Trump has kept so many of his dealings secret that the White House doesn’t even acknowledge when he’s playing golf, but he’s been outed many times on social media. And that’s just how journalists do their work now in order to track down the potential corruption of this president. We may never know the full scale of its potential sketchy handouts that hark back to the bad old days of boy’s club bribery.

How much is Trump squeezing taxpayers for every dime? The president has even had the audacity to charge his own Secret Service roughly $60,000 for golf cart rentals alone so far this year. And he’s clearly just getting started.

With any luck, the Trump regime won’t last much longer. And provided he stays out of prison, President Trump can go back to doing what he does best soon: Schmoozing at his golf course without robbing taxpayers blind.

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[USA Today]