By LAUREN LANTRY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The White House South Lawn and Rose Garden are being re-sodded following damage to the greenery after the Republican National Convention was held there two weeks ago, ABC News has confirmed with White House and campaign officials.
“The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. “Additionally, there has been other planned infrastructure work taking place on the south grounds.”
The president’s reelection campaign is footing the bill for the sod work, a senior Trump campaign official said.
In an unprecedented move in August, the White House became the site of the RNC amid the coronavirus pandemic. The move was criticized by many who saw the use of government property for a political event as unethical, and Democrats have accused RNC participants of violating the Hatch Act, a law that bars some government employees of engaging in political activity while acting in their official capacities.
It took almost all summer for the RNC to settle on a final location for the convention. Originally, the RNC was set to be held entirely in Charlotte, North Carolina. But in May, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the convention should be scaled down due to the pandemic.
In early June, it was announced that the main convention’s location was moved to Jacksonville, Florida. But by the end of July, coronavirus cases in Florida were spiking. On July 23, about a month out from when the convention would begin, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the events in Jacksonville had been canceled. It wasn’t until Aug. 14 that the convention’s main location, the nation’s capital, was finalized.
On the final night of the convention, Aug. 27, Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination from the South Lawn of the White House. The speech was delivered to an audience of nearly 1,500, according to estimates. The crowd was not socially distanced, and masks were few and far between. The president spoke on a massive stage built in front of the South Portico, while the audience filled the South Lawn.
First lady Melania Trump also delivered her convention speech from the White House. She spoke to a small crowd — also not socially distanced with few masks — from the newly renovated Rose Garden, which was finished just in time for her speech and is now also being re-sodded following it.
A White House official sought to downplay the repair work to the lawn, noting that it is not uncommon across administrations for large events to lead to needed lawn repairs. But it is uncommon for the White House to serve as the grounds for a presidential, political nominating convention.
The Washington Post first reported the re-sodding, noting that the paper received confirmation from the National Park Service Capital Region “that the repairs are being paid for with political funds.”
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