Air Force Reviews Questionable Overnight Stays At Trump’s Turnberry Resort In Scotland
The Air Force has ordered a review of all international layover stops after crew members stayed in President Donald Trump‘s Turnberry resort in Scotland.
Officials said the stopover of a US Air Force C-17 in Glasgow is “not unusual,” but the intersection of Trump’s hotel chain and government spending prompted a congressional probe.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas released a statement saying, “As our aircrews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars. In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates.”
In April, the House Oversight and Reform Committee launched a probe of the stays after military aircrafts were instructed to land at Prestwick Airport, in Glasgow, Scotland and crew members would then spend the night at Turnberry.
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The Air Force defended its Prestwick stops, stating it schedules stops based on leg distance and contract fuel availability. CNN reported that in 2017 the Air Force also said Prestwick had “more favorable weather than nearby Shannon Airport, and less aircraft parking congestion than locations on the European continent.”
The committee has been investigating whether increased military expenditures benefiting the Turnberry represent a conflict of interest for the president, as the Turnberry had previously been operating at a significant deficit.
According to Air Force statistics the number of overnight stays has increased from 40 in 2015 to 220 by Aug. 2019. The Turnberry resort reportedly lost $4.5 million in 2017 but saw revenue climb $3 million in 2018.
The committee said in a letter to the Pentagon in June that was published by Politico that since October 2017 the military has purchased fuel 629 times at the Prestwick airport, totaling $11 million.
The committee requested documents related to the Department of Defense’s expenditures at Turnberry, any communications between military personnel and Turnberry employees, Defense Department communications with the State Department of Scotland, and documents relating to Prestwick expenses.
The Defense Department has not cooperated with the investigation.
The Air Force’s review has so far found no wrongdoing, noting that the Turnberry was cheaper than the nearby Marriott.
“While we are still reviewing the trip records, we have found nothing that falls outside the guidelines associated with selecting stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest,” said Thomas.
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