Vice President Mike Pence’s controversial visit to President Trump’s Doonbeg, Ireland, resort cost taxpayers nearly $600,000 in ground transportation fees, according to State Department receipts.
Government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) noted that Pence’s decison to stay at Trump’s resort cost taxpayers $599,454.36 in limousine services alone.
“The choice to stay at Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg was both highly inconvenient, and extremely expensive,” CREW noted. “Located 181 miles away on the opposite side of the country from Pence’s meetings in Dublin, Doonbeg was far from a convenient location.”
NBC News notes that during then-President Barack Obama’s three-day visit to Ireland in 2013, the State Department spent just $114,000 on ground transit, paying the same limousine company.
The government also paid the same company nearly $1 million for Trump’s ground transportation during a June visit to the property.
The Hill reports:
Pence’s stay at the Trump resort received intense scrutiny from congressional Democrats who say it is evidence that the president is directing administration spending to his personal financial benefit. The stay coincided with another report revealing that Air Force crew members stayed at Trump Turnberry in Scotland.
Pence has defended his trip, saying his family has ties to Doonbeg and that staying at a Trump property that is already under Secret Service protection made logistical sense to him.
“I understand political attacks by Democrats, but if you have a chance to get to Doonbeg, you’ll find it’s a fairly small place, and the opportunity to stay at Trump National in Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel, made it logical,” he told reporters last week.
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, initially said that Trump made a “suggestion” to Pence to stay at Doonbeg, but later changed his story, claiming the president played no role in the decision.
“I don’t suggest anything,” Trump told reporters last week. “I don’t suggest it.”