This Week in Conflicts: Investigations Into Military Spending at Turnberry, Pence’s Stay at Doonbeg and the Pitch to Hold the Next G7 Summit at Doral


This week, new investigations connected to three of President Donald Trump’s resorts and NOAA is investigating whether it violated its own ethics while backing the president’s false Hurrican Dorian claim.

Military Spending at Trump’s Scottish Resort

According to Politico, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating whether increased military spending at President Trump’s Scotland resort is a conflict of interest for the president.

“Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident,” Politico reported. 

The investigation has been going on for several months and the Defense Department has not complied with the committee’s requests, according to CNN.

According to Politico, “the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.”

NOAA Ethics Investigation 

The Washington Post is reporting, an official with NOAA is investigating whether the agency violated its own ethics when it backed President Trump’s tweets about Hurricane Dorian.

The president’s tweet incorrectly said the hurricane would impact Alabama. The National Weather Service corrected his tweet but NOAA put out a press release that contradicted the weather service and backed President Trump.

According to CNN, “NOAA Acting Chief Scientist Craig McLean called the response ‘political’ and ‘a danger to public health and safety.’ He also said he would investigate if the agency’s actions violated the ‘NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity.’”

President Trump continued to mention Alabama when talking about the possible impact and path of Hurricane Dorian. He also presented an altered image of the path of the hurricane. The image showed an extended incorrect path for the storm to make it look like Alabama would be impacted. The extended path appeared to be drawn with a black sharpie. The whole incident is being called #sharpiegate.

Doral for Next G-7 Summit?

President Trump touted his Doral golf resort as the ideal place for the next G-7 Summit, according to the Associated Press.

“Trump’s proposal at the current G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France, portrayed the Doral resort in the most glowing terms, even though he said later he was more interested in logistics for the meeting than making money,” the news organization reported.

“We have a series of magnificent buildings … very luxurious rooms,” Trump said. “We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants, it’s like — it’s like such a natural.”

Government ethics watchdogs say this is a conflict of interest. One watchdog group is asking the State Department to investigate.

Pence Ireland Stay

According to ABC News, House Democrats launched a probe into Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at President Trump’s resort in Ireland.

“Democrats are requesting documents from the White House, Pence’s office, the U.S. Secret Service and the Trump Organization questioning the use of taxpayer dollars and what they contend are potential violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause,” ABC News reported.

The Emoluments Clause bans the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional consent. 

“Senate Democrats also have sent a letter to Pence questioning the use of taxpayer funds, calling stay at Doonbeg an ‘apparent conflict of interest,’” according to ABC News.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking. 


Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.