Documents: Military spent $184,000 at President Trump's Scotland resort
By JOHN WAGNER AND DAVID A. FAHRENTHOLD | The Washington Post | Published: September 18, 2019
The U.S. military has spent more than $184,000 at President Donald Trump's golf resort in Scotland since he took office, far more than previously known, according to documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight Committee.
The figure was disclosed in letters exchanged between the Pentagon and top Democrats on the committee, which is probing whether Trump has violated a constitutional provision that prevents presidents from enriching themselves through the office.
The Air Force has used Glasgow Prestwick Airport with greater frequency during Trump's presidency, placing some of its crews at Trump Turnberry, which is about 30 miles away, during overnight stopovers in Scotland.
In a letter dated Wednesday, leaders of the Democratic-led committee voiced frustration with the limited scope of a response last week from the Pentagon to requests for detailed information on the cost of the stays.
"Although the Department's response is belated and deficient, it still reveals that far more taxpayer funds have been spent at the President's resort than previously known," said the letter signed by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a subcommittee chairman.
The congressmen said information provided by the Pentagon indicated that taxpayer funds had been used to pay for more than three dozen separate stays, significantly more than have come to light in recent news coverage.
The letter from the Pentagon relayed that it had tallied about $124,578.96 in expenditures "specifically associated with the Trump Turnberry." The letter said that amounted to an average of $189.04 per overnight stay, which it said was significantly less than an allowable per diem. The Pentagon also identified an additional $59,729 in expenditures that the House Oversight committee leaders said was associated with Turnberry.
In their letter Wednesday, Cummings and Raskin wrote that "it appears that U.S. taxpayer funds were used to purchase the equivalent of more than 650 rooms at the Trump Turnberry just since August 2017 - or the equivalent of one room every night for more than one-and-a-half years."
The congressmen said that the Pentagon had not provided the total number of rooms that were booked nor the actual rates that were paid.
The total spent by the Air Force at Trump's Turnberry resort is a small percentage of the hotel's total revenue. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the club reported receiving about $20.7 million from customers. The Air Force receipts amounted to $184,000 over two years. At that rate, they would be roughly 0.4% of the hotel's total annual revenue.
Trump's own trip to Turnberry in 2018 produced at least $24,000 in federal spending by the State Department at the Trump-owned property, according to data posted by the U.S. government.
Trump bought the famous club, which has 192 rooms, in 2014. The president has now spent at least $204 million on the property, without any sign that he's taken out loans to finance that spending. Under Trump's ownership, the resort has lost $41 million and never reported turning a profit, according to filings with the British government.
Earlier this month, the Air Force announced a review of its selection of lodging accommodations amid heightened scrutiny of its decision to place crews at Trump's property, acknowledging that it "might be allowable but not advisable."
In a statement, Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas Jr., an Air Force spokesman, said the service's leadership had asked the service's Air Mobility Command to examine rules regarding how Air Force personnel select destinations for overseas stopovers. He said there was no initial indication of wrongdoing during stopovers in Scotland.
"Even when [Air Force] aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations," he said.