The House Oversight and Reform Committee earlier this year launched a probe of the stays after aircraft would be directed to land at Prestwick Airport, in Glasgow, Scotland. The crew members would then stay at Turnberry. The Air Force had previously launched a separate inquiry into those stays.
Over the weekend, it was reported that a US Air Force C-17 crew stayed at the Turnberry resort during a March refueling stop en route to Kuwait, another example of Trump’s company earning money from taxpayer dollars, which has led some government watchdogs to argue the arrangements breach ethical norms and potentially violate a clause of the US Constitution.
“While initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures, we understand that U.S. Service members lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable,” the Air Force said in its statement Sunday evening. “Even when USAF aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrews staying at such locations.”
After news of the congressional probe became public, the Air Force has said the stopover of a US Air Force C-17 in Glasgow is “not unusual.”
“As our aircrews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars. In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas said in a statement. “While we are still reviewing the trip records, we have found nothing that falls outside the guidelines associated with selecting stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest.”
In the case of the March 13 flight, seven active duty and National Guard crew members stayed at Turnberry. The Air Force said the Turnberry resort was less expensive than a nearby Marriott and that both were under the per diem rate of $166. The Air Force also said it schedules stopovers based on such factors as leg distance and contract fuel availability.
The Pentagon and White House have not responded to CNN’s request for comment regarding the stopovers in Scotland and the stays at Turnberry. The Trump Organization also did not respond to a request for comment regarding the stays at Turnberry.
But the Defense Department has refused to comply with investigators’ requests to date, a senior Democratic committee aide told CNN on Friday.