The stays at the Scottish property coincide with a turnaround in the struggling property’s fortunes.
Earlier this month, we learned the Pentagon was investigating the curious case of Air Force members patronizing Donald Trump’s Scottish golf course after refueling at a nearby airport rather than a military base, which would have been cheaper. Of course, the rule in Trumpworld is that all ethics scandals always turn out to be worse than they first appeared. Naturally, it’s now emerged that it wasn’t just a few stays here and there but literally dozens of overnight trips that (totally coincidentally!) coincided with a turnaround in the struggling property’s fortunes.
Politico reports that, starting in 2015, the U.S. Air Force has lodged crews at Turnberry, the president’s Scottish resort, as many as 40 times, having “significantly ramped up its overnight stops in Scotland under Trump after signing a contract with the Prestwick Airport—situated 20-plus miles from Turnberry—in the waning months of the Obama administration.” While crews staying at Trump properties obviously wouldn’t have been an issue prior to January 2017, upon moving into the White House another commander in chief probably would have attempted to avoid the appearance of injecting taxpayer money directly into his own pocket, and directed the military to stay elsewhere (and fuel-up at a money-saving military base). But that’s not how the Grift King rolls; through August of this year, the Air Force has stopped at Prestwick 259 times and stayed in the area 220, versus 95 stops and 40 overnight stays in 2015. According to Politico, Turnberry lost $4.5 million in 2017 but saw an increase in revenue of $3 million last year.
The Air Force has said the refueling stops at Prestwick and related overnight stays are all within Pentagon guidelines but acknowledged that, yeah, it doesn’t look great, and launched an internal review to determine the “guidance associated with the use of civil airports and lodging selection for aircrew at en route locations.” Ralph Porciani the general manager at Turnberry refused to tell Politico how many crew members have stayed at the resort in recent years, adding that reporters should stop trying to “dig up dirt” on Turnberry, which was “on its knees” before Trump bought it in 2014.
The stays at Turnberry are, of course, a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount of taxpayer money that has been spent at the president’s for-profit clubs since his inauguration. In addition to his many trips to Mar-a-Lago, where he’s hosted heads of state, he’s used trips abroad to promote—and throw some cash at—his golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland, where Mike Pence stayed earlier this month despite having meetings in Dublin more than a hundred miles away. Trump has also threatened to hold next year’s G7 summit at Trump Doral, where business is in sharp decline, which may or may not have something to do with bedbugs.