The U.S. government reportedly forked over more than $77,000 to Trump Turnberry, Donald Trump’s reportedly unprofitable golf resort in Scotland, in the lead-up to the president’s recent stay at the property.
Starting in April, the State Department paid $77,345.35 in several tranches to SLC Turnberry Ltd, the Trump company that owns the Scottish resort, reported Reuters on Wednesday. Citing federal government spending records, which were first reported by The Scotsman, the news agency said the payments were listed as being for “hotel rooms for VIP visit.”
It’s unclear whether all the payments were made to cover Trump’s recent stay at the resort. About $70,000 of the total amount was paid out in the days leading up to the president’s two-day visit to his property last week, Reuters said.
Trump, who’s come under scrutiny in the past for refusing to put his assets in a blind trust, has retained ownership of his hotels and other properties, including Turnberry (for which Trump shelled out more than $200 million in cash in 2014 to buy and renovate, and has been bleeding money for years).
Since Trump took office, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have been in charge of the day-to-day operations of his businesses. Still, ethics experts and watchdog groups say the president has failed to abide by his promise to clearly separate his businesses from his administration.
“This is another example of President Trump using the power and authority of his office to profit personally,” Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, told The Scotsman, reacting to the news of the government’s hefty payments to Turnberry.
“President Trump not only used the occasion of a state visit to promote his Trump-branded golf course, but told U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill,” Fischer said.
The Trump Organization told The Washington Post this week that Trump-owned properties do not profit from U.S. government business.
“For United States government patronage, our hotels charge room rates only at cost and we do not profit from these stays,” the company said.
Eric Trump echoed this position in a Wednesday tweet defending his father.
“We charge our COST and do NOT profit from these stays. Much more would be spent if they stayed elsewhere,” he wrote, before suggesting the Trump business had actually done a “good deed.”