US Congress launches investigation into dicey Prestwick Airport deals

World Sunday 08/September/2019 11:34 AM
By: Times News Service
US Congress launches investigation into dicey Prestwick Airport deals

Washington: A US Congressional committee is investigating President Donald Trump in connection with a potential conflict of interest over military spending at a Scottish airport near his golf resort.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee says expenditure at Prestwick Airport has "increased substantially" since Trump came into office.

The debt-ridden airport has been fighting off closure.

It is said to be integral to the Trump business, which is also loss-making.

The committee's accusations are detailed in a letter to the Pentagon - which is dated to June but was only revealed on a web portal on Friday.

The letter requests access to all communications between the US Department of Defense and Trump Turnberry, as well as any related financial records.

According to various reports in the US media, the department has not yet complied with the demands.

It has also not commented directly, and neither has the Trump Organisation.

The letter - signed by the Democratic committee chairman Elijah Cummings - was addressed to then-acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan.

Citing Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) records, it said the US military had made 629 fuel purchase orders at the airport, totalling $11m (£9m), since October 2017.

It also alleges that certain military personnel have been offered "cut-price rooms" and free rounds of golf at the Trump Turnberry resort.

It continued: "Given the president's continued financial stake in his Scotland golf courses, these reports raise questions about the president's potential receipt of US or foreign government emoluments in violation of the US Constitution and raise other serious conflict of interest concerns."

Prestwick airport, south of Glasgow, is approximately 20 miles (30km) north of Trump Turnberry.

The Scottish government bought it for £1 in 2013, when it was facing closure.

In June, it was put up for sale. No buyer has been announced.

Amid rising debts, the airport has reportedly slashed its charges to try to retain business.

The Scottish government faced a backlash in 2017 after the Turnberry resort received a tax rebate. Later tha at year, the rules changed and it no longer qualified.

Responding to the latest allegations, the Scottish government said Prestwick Airport operates on a commercial basis and at arm's length from ministers.