September 10, 2019
Mike Pence’s controversial visit to President Trump’s resort in Doonbeg is slated to cost taxpayers $599,454.36 in limousine service alone, according to State Department contracts reviewed by CREW.
The choice to stay at Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg was both highly inconvenient, and extremely expensive. Located 181 miles away on the opposite side of the country from Pence’s meetings in Dublin, Doonbeg was far from a convenient location.
Pence’s complicated itinerary included meetings with Irish political leaders in Dublin on Tuesday, bookended by two nights in Doonbeg and about 4 hours of transit on Tuesday alone. His itinerary included flying into Shannon Airport on Monday, driving with a motorcade for roughly an hour to Doonbeg, staying overnight, driving to Shannon, flying cross country on Air Force Two (and back), driving for more than an hour back to stay at Doonbeg again, and then back to Shannon on Wednesday. With a schedule like that, it is no wonder the trip was so expensive. But did it have to be?
On past trips to Ireland, members of the executive branch and their families have used the same funeral service company for transportation, When Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama visited Ireland for three days, they did not rack up nearly the same bill. The same company that chauffeured Pence to Doonbeg was paid $114,000 for limo service for the Obama’s visit. While Pence’s bill was extraordinarily high, it was not out of the norm for a visit to Doonbeg. The U.S. government paid the same company nearly $1 million for transit during Trump’s 2-day trip to the property in June, 2019.
Pence’s $600k limo bill does not even cover the full cost of the trip, because it excludes the cost of Secret Service detail and lodging. CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service records for a more complete picture of what the detour cost taxpayers.
The stay at Doonbeg was so ethically dubious that it has already sparked a congressional inquiry. So far, the Trump organization has provided no satisfying answers to ethics questions about the trip. Pence’s stay at the Trump golf course has been variously explained by the administration as Trump’s suggestion that Pence stay at the resort, visiting Pence’s family in Doonbeg, and the fact that Secret Service had already vetted to property. Trump insists on Twitter that it had nothing to do with him. The administration’s constantly changing story calls the real motivation in to question, but what is clear is that the detour was not convenient, and it did not come cheap.
Though the ridiculous logistics and spending of taxpayer money a Doonbeg made this visit particularly corrupt, it was far from the first time Pence funneled money to Trump properties. According to a recent CREW report, he is one of the most frequent visitors in the Trump administration, visiting Trump businesses at least 20 times. Additionally, political groups linked to Pence have also hosted 6 events at Trump properties.
Regardless of the administration’s attempts to explain Pence’s trip to Doonbeg, we know that the result was higher revenue for the Trump Organization for one of its struggling golf properties These payments come at a cost to American taxpayers, both in the steep price tag for the bizarre detour and in the threat to our democracy that comes from a government run to pad the president’s bottom line.