In 2014 Donald Trump purchased the historic Turnberry golf course in southwest Scotland for $60 million. True to form, he renamed it Trump Turnberry and sunk another $200 million into renovations. In an act of collaboration to cover its bets, The Trump organization formed a business partnership with the nearby Glasgow Prestwick airport. A press release from November of the same year announcing the partnership cited the synergy between the two as ”crucial for both parties as [they] further develop golf and tourism in Ayrshire and Scotland”. Now the president faces more question of scandal after it came to light that a military convoy plane delivering supplies to Kuwait made stops at the Scottish resort as it traveled to and from the Middle East.
A House Oversight Committee investigation of this affair has been underway since April. The Pentagon has not been forthcoming with answers. In response to a Politico story, the Air Force maintained that the stop was not unusual, but that an investigation is ongoing. In the same statement, Brigadier General Ed Thomas said: ”the [crew] used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield. An email from Glasgow Prestwick’s Manager of Aviation Services (prior to the partnership) bluntly stated that of a list of hotels used for the airport’s business, Turnberry was last, based on price.
Trump’s latest scandal sees him playing air traffic controller to divert military flights to destination profitable to him. As has often been the case with this administration, there is ample smoke, but deceit and legal stonewalling have obscured the extent of the fire. Trump’s ownership of the club is listed on his financial disclosure forms and the partnership was announced publicly, but it seems no one considered the possibility for conflict-of-interest to arise. It is now on the radar of Representative Elijah Cummings. In June he sent an official correspondence to then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shannon detailing his concerns of a conflict of interest and a sharp increase in military expenditures at Glasgow Prestwick. It is not known if Shannon complied with this request before he resigned.
The prosperity of Glasgow Prestwick and Trump Turnberry are very closely linked. Each was struggling prior to Trump’s election. The golf course reportedly lost $4.5 million in 2017. The Scottish government purchased the floundering airport for £1 in 2013 and put it back up for sale in June. This despite $11 million is U.S. military fuel purchases since October ’17. All evidence points to two intertwined businesses seeing considerable financial upticks following the Trump ascension to the presidency.
Photo by Ludwig Schreier