More than a quarter of a million people are demanding that Melania Trump and her son Barron cut taxpayers a break and move into the White House, according to a new petition.
The Change.org petition, which had nearly 417,000 signatures as of 8 a.m. Friday, two weeks after being created, accuses the first lady of draining public coffers by continuing to live at Trump Tower in Midtown, where security runs about $146,000 per day, according to estimates from city officials.
“The U.S. taxpayer is paying an exorbitant amount of money to protect the first lady in Trump Tower,” reads the petition, started by Change.org user Doug Caruana. “This expense yields no positive results for the nation and should be cut from being funded.”
While President Donald Trump resides in Washington D.C., First Lady Melania Trump and their young son, Barron, are still living in the tower while Barron attends school in the city. But the cost of keeping them there has come under increasing criticism from city officials calling on the federal government to reimburse the city for security costs.
The president has come under fire for blowing through taxpayer cash with his weekend travels to Trump-branded golf resorts as well as for the first family’s continued residence in Midtown, which many of the petitions signers said in online comments represents both a departure from tradition and a steep cost to taxpayers.
The NYPD and FDNY shelled out about $25.7 million at a rate of about $308,000 per day between election day and inauguration when Trump made his Fifth Avenue flagship tower his makeshift headquarters.
Although the security costs dropped when Trump shipped off to D.C., critics still say Melania’s choice to remain in New York is at odds with Trump’s stated plans to slash the national budget.
The city has been reimbursed just $7 million in security costs so far, but officials continue to demand federal reimbursement to offset the cost to the NYPD, which has been forced to pay out overtime and divert officers from across the city.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.