Vice President Mike Pence says his boss didn’t order him to stay at a Trump property during an official visit to Ireland over the weekend, despite it being more than 150 miles from where a slew of official meetings will take place. Which would fit with a pattern. Pence has never needed orders to steer money to his boss’s businesses.
Since 2017, Pence’s political group, the Great America Committee, has dropped about $224,000 at Trump properties, chiefly the Trump International Hotel in Washington and its on-site steakhouse, according to Federal Election Commission records maintained by ProPublica.
Such spending appears to be a family affair. Pence’s brother, freshman Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), has also dropped considerable sums at the Trump hotel. In fact, Rep. Pence’s campaign amended a number of FEC filings this year after USA Today noted that the campaign appeared to be illegally paying for the congressman to live at the Trump hotel. The Pence campaign said those expenses were reported incorrectly, and amended FEC filings accordingly.
As of March, when Rep. Pence’s campaign reported its latest Trump property expenditure, the campaign had spent about $45,000 at the president’s businesses.
The spending by the Pence brothers reflects a broader trend taking place throughout the Republican Party, where officials are doling out campaign cash to properties and businesses associated with the president. But the vice president is a particularly prolific Trump property patron. Only the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have spent more at Trump businesses than Pence’s PAC during the 2020 election cycle.
The latest expenditures are different than the others, however, in that the U.S. taxpayers, not Pence’s political donors, are picking up the tab. The VP will be staying at the Trump Doonbeg golf resort during his trip to Ireland. According to his chief of staff Marc Short, he is doing so after Donald Trump “suggested” the resort, from which the president still profits. And according to Pence, he got the okay to do so from the State Department.
Pence’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
The president’s continued financial interest in his sprawling real estate business has drawn routine allegations of corruption and self-dealing since his election, though courts have thus far ruled that the arrangement is above board. In July, a federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s continued profiting from his businesses violates an anti-bribery provision of the Constitution. That case is expected to end up before the Supreme Court.
In the meantime, the official overseeing the government’s defense of Trump’s position in that case, Attorney General Bill Barr, is checking in at the Trump hotel in a big way. Last week, the Washington Post reported that he plans to throw a $30,000 birthday bash at the hotel.