President Trump’s reelection campaign is paying to replace sod on the White House South Lawn and Rose Garden after damage to the greenery late last month from large crowds and heavy equipment used for Republican National Convention festivities.
Trump’s unprecedented decision to stage overtly political events on public property — which drew complaints that the Trumps were overtly using “the people’s house” for personal gain — continues to reverberate nearly two weeks later, as work crews re-sod grass and make other repairs.
On Aug. 27, Trump delivered his address formally accepting the Republican nomination on the South Lawn before an estimated 1,500 supporters seated on chairs.
Trump spoke from an enormous stage built in front of the South Portico of the White House.
It was flanked by massive television screens and illuminated by scores of hulking spotlights — all particularly heavy equipment to position on grass.
Two nights earlier, first lady Melania Trump delivered her convention address in the newly reconstructed Rose Garden, with dozens of supporters seated in chairs.
Turf was laid atop the grass as a protective measure, according to one White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because aides were not authorized to discuss some details.
The garden is also experiencing “issues with water drainage” and “some minor complications with updated construction.”
New sod is being being laid down.
“The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. “Additionally, there has been other planned infrastructure work taking place on the south grounds.”
A Trump campaign official confirmed that the sod replacement was being paid for with campaign funds.
The construction underway includes other repairs and improvements that were already in the planning stages or under consideration, said a White House official.”
The work has been ongoing for several days and has interrupted the regular rhythms at the White House.
Trump has been transported to Joint Base Andrews for recent flights via motorcade rather than by helicopter because Marine One cannot land on the South Lawn during the construction and repairs.
In addition, White House staff have kept journalists covering events there from seeing the work underway in the Rose Garden and South Lawn by using alternate venues.
Trump typically holds outdoor news conferences in the Rose Garden, but he held Monday’s gathering with reporters instead on the North Portico of the White House.
=It was the first time in recent memory that a president staged a news conference on the front steps of the residence facing Pennsylvania Avenue.
Officials did not detail how much the repairs would cost.
A White House official said that it was not uncommon in this administration, as well as previous ones, to undertake repairs to the South Lawn following large events, such as the annual Easter Egg Roll or Fourth of July fireworks.
But the current construction highlights the blatant manner in which Trump used the trappings of the presidency for purely political purposes in staging the Republican convention at the White House — a move that outraged government ethics experts, as well as many Democrats.
In August, Melania Trump unveiled the redesigned Rose Garden, which was panned by some critics.
The first lady took on the Rose Garden renovation as a personal project, along with revamping the White House tennis pavilion.