Like most of America, John DeVore was astounded to see the Facebook photos posted by a random Palm Beach rich dude last weekend. Thanks to his membership at Mar-a-Lago, some guy named Richard DeAgazio managed to sidle up to the Nuclear Football for a selfie and watch a North Korean missile crisis play out in real time.
"It was the sheer happiness on his face that got me," says DeVore, a former Conan O'Brien digital writer with bylines everywhere from GQ to Maxim. "You could just see him thinking, This membership was totally worth it. Look at me. I’m next to the guy with the nuclear codes!"
That got DeVore to thinking: America clearly needs an Everyman in Mar-a-Lago to keep Donald Trump honest. And the price is a low, low $200,000.
"I don’t like words like 'hero.' I don’t like words like 'brave,'" DeVore says. "I’m just a regular joe who wants $200,000 so I can stroll into Mar-a-Lago in a kimono in case I need to remind the president not to have a national security conversation by the breakfast buffet."
DeVore's pitch is simple: Throw a few bucks at his GoFundMe page so he can apply for membership at Trump's totally skeezy, for-profit, access-to-the-president operation.
Yes, it really is that simple to get right next to the leader of the free world in 2017. In the past, buying access required a complex web of dark-money donations through political action committees. Today, dropping a couple hundred Gs at the president's palace by the beach does the trick.
"Money has always been able to reach power, but this is just so over-the-top," DeVore says. "It absolutely boggles the mind that they even raised the membership fees after he got elected."
Yes, yes, DeVore knows that even if the internet scrounges up enough couch change to get him through the application round at Mar-a-Lago, he'll probably be rejected on merit. ("When they ask what organizations I belong to, I'll have to just say, 'Uh, the gym?'" he says.)
His fundraiser is more about starting a conversation about money and political access. And however much cash he ends up raising, DeVore will donate it to Planned Parenthood in the end.
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"It’s gonna go to a good cause," he says. "The conversation about access is the soul of this mission and this parody. That’s a conversation that a lot of people should be having, the same people who showed up to his rallies because they need a president who would advocate for them. He's not advocating for them; he's opening his door to anyone with enough cash."
Of course, there's always the possibility that Trump would take DeVore's cash — after all, plenty
"It would be very much like the Trump administration to take $200,000 of regular people's money and then tackle me as I stroll into Mar-a-Lago wearing a seersucker suit," he says.