The U.S. federal government spent more than $60,000 to house the President and his staff at Trump’s Scottish Turnberry golf resort last weekend.
According to Scottish newspaper The Scotsman, which claims to have seen the records, the State Department made payments to SLC Turnberry Limited of more than $68,000 to cover expenses incurred on the trip. The total cost is not known.
While the amount itself is not unusual for an international presidential trip, the federal funds used to pay for it typically do not go to a business owned by a sitting president, especially one who has yet to fully divest from the company which owns the resort.
In addition to the payments, President Donald Trump also attained what essentially amounts to free advertising for Turnberry. In his now-infamous interview with British tabloid The Sun — during which he criticized Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit — Trump referenced his luxury resort, calling it a “magical” place and one of his favorite places.
He played two rounds of golf while staying at Turnberry, according to the Scotsman. Playing there marked his 169th day of playing golf as the president.
Ethics watchdog groups have expressed concern over the questionable decision to stay at one of his own hotels on a government trip.
“I view this as kind of a forced subsidy of an infomercial for his properties,” Norman Eisen, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics told the New York Times. “He’s attempting to utilize his trip to get beneficial PR.”
Despite Trump showing off his Turnberry property on the international stage, financial records show it has not been profitable since Trump purchased it in 2014, the Times reported. According to the Scotsman, the Turnberry luxury resort lost $23 million in 2016 alone.
A chief compliance officer at the Trump Organization by the name of George Sorial reportedly told the Scotsman that, “For United States government patronage, our hotels charge room rates only at cost and we do not profit from these stays.”