Peters wants details on Pence's stay at Trump hotel in Ireland

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
U.S Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen Pence, right, his sister Anne Pence Poynter, left, and his mother Nancy Pence Fritsch arrive in Doonbeg, Ireland, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. Speaking to reporters in Dublin, where he spent the day, Pence spoke about his personal connection to the village of Doonbeg the site of both the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel as well as family history.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is demanding answers from Vice President Mike Pence’s office after the former Indiana governor chose to stay at a Trump-owned hotel during an official visit to Ireland, despite the hotel’s distance from the location of the event.

The ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Bloomfield Township Democrat sent a letter to the Republican vice president Thursday requesting details on the cost of travel, security and accommodations related to his stay at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg.

Doonbeg is more than 180 miles away from Dublin, the location of Pence's official visit.

Peters expressed concern about the cost of travel and the use of a hotel that “financially benefits President Trump."

"This raises serious concerns about wasteful expenditures and possible conflicts of interest related to taxpayer-funded travel by this administration," Peters said.

Trump said Wednesday he had nothing to do with Pence’s decision to stay at the hotel, despite a Tuesday statement from Pence’s chief of staff that Pence stayed at the hotel at the president’s “suggestion.”

“People like my product,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “What can I tell you? I can’t help it.”

Pence’s spokesman later said the decision to stay at the hotel was based solely on the effort to find accommodations near Pence’s ancestral hometown and official meetings on both coasts of Ireland. Pence’s family stayed at the same resort in 2013 before Trump acquired the hotel.

Democrats have alleged the use of Trump’s properties on official visits enrich Trump at taxpayer expense and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Wednesday called Trump properties “a black hole for taxpayers’ money.”

In his letter, Peters’ cited “reports” that 24 of the 32 people in Trump’s cabinet have used Trump properties during travel and called the stays a “troubling trend.”

"President Trump still owns the Trump Organization via a trust and, under the terms of the trust, can draw income from his business at any time,” Peters wrote.

He also requested the rates of comparable hotels in Doonbeg and Dublin to compare the cost of the Trump hotel stay as well as information regarding Pence’s reimbursement to the government for the cost of any family members who accompanied him.

“Federal policies regarding official travel by government employees, including you, are organized around a single principle: public service is a privilege and taxpayer dollars spent on travel should be used prudently,” Peters wrote.

The Associated Press contributed.