Service of Appearances Matter But Pick Your Battles Carefully When Contesting Questionable Choices

September 19th, 2019

Categories: Appearances, Greed, Politicians, Politics, Reputation

Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Photo: glasgowprestwick.com

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings picked an example that, at first blush, looked like the Trump organization was yet again driving–and profiting from–government business at one of its properties while the head of the family ran the country. Digging deeper, while the situation doesn’t look right, the severity of the malfeasance is feeble at best.

Brigadier General Edward Thomas spoke with Lalita Clozel and Joshua Jamerson for their Wall Street Journal article “Air Force Reviews Travel Policies Amid Scrutiny Over Trump Resort –Aircrew’s March stay at Scotland resort followed guidelines, Air Force says; House Democrats probe the expenditures.”

Brigadier General Edward Thomas. Photo: af.mil

The general didn’t address the issue of the property’s owner. He said “U.S. Service members lodging at resort accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.”

The general added: “We are not only stewards of American tax dollars but we represent our nation as we travel abroad.”

The fact is that the crew spent $30 less than the maximum hotel per diem allowed at the Trump Turnberry golf resort which is some 40 minutes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. In addition, the reporters wrote that it was the cheapest option.

According to Clozel and Jamerson the president tweeted: “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

The reporters continued: “The C-17 plane and its crew were on a multi-leg journey that took them from Anchorage, Alaska, to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, to Portsmouth, N.H., Glasgow and Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and then back.”

Prestwick was selected as a refueling location in August 2016, months before Trump was elected, because it has better weather than Shannon, Ireland, is open 24 hours and doesn’t attract a lot of air traffic.

“Since October 2017, the U.S. military has paid the airport hundreds of times for fuel purchases totaling $11 million Cummings said. The U.S. government has also made tens of thousands of dollars in purchases at the Turnberry resort in 2018 and 2019, according to procurement records.

“Both the Scottish government-owned airport and the Turnberry resort have lost money in recent years, Mr. Cummings said in his letter.”

Since no laws or regulations have been broken and the crew spent well under the per diem hotel ceiling, should Representative Cummings look for a better example of the enrichment of the Trump empire while the company’s namesake is in office? Should the Air Force forbid crews from staying at any resort for appearance’s sake? Should there be a regulation prohibiting any government employee from staying at a property owned by a president, cabinet member, senator or congress man or woman?

Boeing C-17 Photo: af.mil

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3 Responses to “Service of Appearances Matter But Pick Your Battles Carefully When Contesting Questionable Choices”

  1. JBS Said:

    Rep. Cummings is nit-picking. If the overnight rate was the cheapest in the area (although that is hard to believe), then our tax dollars were spent wisely.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    JBS,

    Tax payers are in for far bigger bills generated by government types at Trump International Hotel in DC, Mar Lago and Bedminster golf club. What’s wrong with the presidential retreat–Camp David? OH! What a stupid question. The cost to house the “family-advisors” and secret service staff would be a fraction of what the DJT gang must ring up at the latter properties which clearly lessens its appeal plus I bet there’s not enough ormolu and gold leaf at Camp David for his taste.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    This was not the best example for House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to focus on. However, in view of all the outrageous profiteering from Trump properties by government bodies, employees, foreign government agencies and individuals seeking proximity and to curry favor with Trump and Co. and the matter of the ceaseless violation of the Emoluments clause these commercial choices should be avoided for appearance’s sake.

    Also it certainly is worth considering creating a regulation prohibiting any government employee from staying at a property owned by a president, cabinet member, senator or congress man or woman. Isn’t that the basis of the constantly touted emoluments clause: Trump obviously has absolutely no shame or no concern for appearances and certainly none for the truth. But aren’t other branches of government supposed to be concerned with these matters? We seem to be operating generally on a model of a corporate run Presidency which continues to use the office as a marketing and profit-making device.

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