Secret Service: No visitor logs at Mar-a-Lago, watchdog calls that ‘terrifying’

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 6:25 PM

An aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire President Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. and now known as the winter White House.
New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images
An aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire President Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. and now known as the winter White House.(New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images)


The Secret Service has no system to keep track of people who visit President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, according to a court filing by the government this week.

>> Read more trending news

That lack of documentation is “terrifying,” says the director of a watchdog group that filed a lawsuit to try to obtain visitor logs for Trump’s “winter White House.”

Trump visited Mar-a-Lago seven times between February and April, hosting leaders of China and Japan, ordering missile strikes on Syria and conducting other official business there in addition to leisure time. Mar-a-Lago is also a private club with about 500 members.

>> Related: Photos: Donald Trump's Palm Beach home Mar-a-Lago

After Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington pressed for records of who visited the president in Palm Beach, the government last month released a list of 22 names associated with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s February visit to Mar-a-Lago.

But after conducting a “broad set of searches” for other Mar-a-Lago visitors, the Secret Service agent in charge of public records request declared in a Wednesday filing that “there is no system for keeping track of presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago, as there is at the White House Complex. Specifically, it was determined that there is no grouping, listing, or set of records that would reflect presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago.”

CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder expressed disbelief at the lack of records.

“We will be pressing the court for the full set of records that does exist,” Bookbinder said in a statement on the group’s website.

>> Related: Trump presides over Red Cross Ball at Mar-a-Lago

“If the government’s statement is true, however, and there really are no records documenting the many people President Trump has met with at Mar-a-Lago, the government has just revealed that everyone from lobbyists to foreign agents can buy secret access to the president — without accountability or even a simple record — by paying his personal business. And that is terrifying.”

Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 7:17 PM

INDIO, CA - APRIL 28:  (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)
Frazer Harrison
INDIO, CA - APRIL 28: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)(Frazer Harrison)

Jim Rodford, bassist for popular rock band The Kinks from 1978 to 1996, has died at 76, according to the band.

>> Read more trending news

The Kinks, whose hits include “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Victoria” and “Waterloo Sunset,” made the announcement Saturday on its official social media accounts.

“It is with deep sadness that we have learned that Jim Rodford passed away – he toured and recorded with the Kinks for many years and will be greatly missed. He was much loved by all of us #JimRodford,” the band said on Twitter.

Founding member Dave Davies also expressed his sorrow over Rodford’s “sudden loss.”

“I’m devastated Jim’s sudden loss I’m too broken up to put words together it’s such a shock I always thought Jim would live forever in true rock and roll fashion – strange – great friend great musician great man – he was an integral part of the Kinks later years RIP,” he wrote on Twitter.

Although Rodford did not play for the band when they burst onto the scene in the ’60s, he was credited by Davies as being an integral part of “The Kinks” in their later years. Rodford would later return to the band The Zombies.

Three people hit by train since its debut last week

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/AP
A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

For the third time in the week since the Brightline train started its service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, a person has been hit by the passenger train, according to Fort Lauderdale police.

>> Read more trending news

Detective Tracy Figone, public information officer for the police department, said a pedestrian attempted to cross the train tracks at Northeast Third Avenue and North Flagler Drive when the gates were down. The person’s injuries are not life-threatening, according to Figone.

Four people have been hit and killed by Brightline trains since it started testing service. 

Friday night, a Brightline spokesperson reiterated the message from a press conference earlier that day: Safety.

“Today, we joined with partners in South Florida to stress our top priority - safety. Incidents like these can be avoided and train warnings need to be treated exactly like red lights, stop signs and crosswalks,” the spokesperson said.

On Friday, Brightline officials announced newly planned safety and public education initiatives in the wake of two fatal accidents in the last week.

On Wednesday, 51-year-old Jeffrey King was hit and killed by a northbound Brightline train when he pedaled his bicycle around the gates near the Florida East Coast Railway crossing about 4:30 p.m. on Ocean Avenue. Last Friday, 32-year-old Melissa Lavell was hit and killed near the intersection of Northeast Sixth Avenue in Boynton Beach. Witnesses told police she attempted to beat the train when the gates were down.

An 18-year-old who jumped in front of the train while it was making  a test run in July was ruled a suicide, officials said. The November death of a woman on the tracks was ruled an accident.

During the press conference, Brightline’s President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard said they plan to implement electronic signs as well as put employees at busy intersections as extra warnings of passing trains.

“We offer our deepest sympathy to those affected by the recent incidents,” Goddard said at a news conference to announce the new safety measures. “The fact that these incidents are completely avoidable is what makes them so tragic.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida group raffles off rifle to benefit children's program

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 5:50 PM

An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children. (Photo: WFTV.com)
An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children. (Photo: WFTV.com)

An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children.

>> Read more trending news

Channel 9 found out that phone calls to buy tickets for the raffle go to three Central Florida county jails.

The flyer advertising the raffle was created by the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency.

It advertises a chance to win an AR-15 rifle. There are phone numbers on the flyer to buy $20 tickets.

Every one of the numbers directs the caller to someone's desk at the Orange, Seminole and Osceola County jails.

Some were perplexed by the offer.

“Probably a good value, but it’s very bizarre and counterintuitive,” said Andrew Shure.

Information on the raffle to win the $1,200 gun was tweeted by the St. Cloud police.

The local Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency chapter said the $6,800 or so raised would be used for community projects, like buying gifts for underprivileged children.

“They could raffle off a car or something other than a gun. That doesn’t make sense to raffle off a gun,” said Laura Stephenson.

Officials in Orange and Seminole counties seemed surprised that calls for information about the AR-15 raffle were going to county jail offices.

There is an asterisk on the flyer that said the winner must comply with applicable laws and background checks.

A member of this organization said that they won't really be handing over a rifle to the winner, but instead a certificate they can use to pick up the gun.

Researchers find meteorites from Michigan meteor

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 5:06 PM

A piece of stony-iron meteorite sits on a display during a press conference, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, Mich. Longway Planetarium astronomers have located three meteorites, after a meteor broke apart about 20 miles over Earth Tuesday. Most of the meteorite’s fragments landed in Hamburg Township, Mich. The meteor will be sent to NASA for analysis. (Bronte Wittpenn/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)
Bronte Wittpenn/AP
A piece of stony-iron meteorite sits on a display during a press conference, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, Mich. Longway Planetarium astronomers have located three meteorites, after a meteor broke apart about 20 miles over Earth Tuesday. Most of the meteorite’s fragments landed in Hamburg Township, Mich. The meteor will be sent to NASA for analysis. (Bronte Wittpenn/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)(Bronte Wittpenn/AP)

Researchers with the American Meteor Society found two meteorites just days after a meteor lit up the sky across part of Michigan, according to a tweet from AMS.

>> Read more trending news

“We are happy and excited to report, two meteorites from the Jan. 16th fall have been found in Michigan,” the Thursday tweet said. “Congratulations to Robert Ward and Larry Atkins on the first two reported finds.”

A group from Longway Planetarium and the Farmington Community Stargazer also recovered a meteorite and planned to share more details about its discovery, according to WDIV.

The meteorites were found near Charlotte, Michigan and near Whitmore Lake, according to WDIV. The AMS received more than 650 reports of a fireball from people in Michigan, Ohio and Canada.