The Trump Organization has applied for bailout money from Ireland and Scotland to help cover salaries for employees at its three golf resorts in Europe because of the coronavirus lockdown, according to a report by Bloomberg.
There is nothing improper about the applications. Companies across Ireland and the United Kingdom are making use of the government programs that fund up to 80% of workers’ salaries, with a $3,100 monthly cap, if they are put on leave and not laid off.
But the easy access to state aid for financially struggling Trump Organization golf resorts in Europe stands in contrast to U.S. economic relief for President Donald Trump’s family company – to which it is mostly barred. The Trump Organization is run by the president’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr. Since taking office, Trump has vowed to insulate himself from the international business empire that bears his name.
Trump Organization managers and employees in Europe did not immediately return requests for comment on Bloomberg’s report.
In a statement provided to USA TODAY, Eric Trump said: “Like millions of businesses around the globe, we have been forced by Government mandate to temporarily close our hospitality and leisure facilities, and are doing all that we can to retain and support our highly valued staff. The job retention plan created by the UK Government has nothing to do with the Trump Organization and does not benefit the business – it is solely about protecting people and their families who would otherwise be out of work.”
All three Trump golf resorts in Europe – in Doonbeg, Ireland; Aberdeen, Scotland; and Turnberry, Scotland – are loss-making businesses, according to official company accounts. It is not immediately clear if the Trump Organization is paying the balance of the salaries for its furloughed workers. Companies must enter the program voluntarily.
The $2 trillion economic stabilization package agreed to by Congress and the Trump administration in early April prevents the president, his family, or other officials from benefiting from some of the package’s programs. But other provisions of the law could provide aid to his hotels in Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York, and his winery in Virginia, according to an analysis by ProPublica, a watchdog journalism website. For instance, individual hotels in Trump’s real estate empire could potentially apply for small business loans if they have fewer than 500 employees, watchdog groups have said.
According to an April 21 report in the New York Times, the president’s family business has in recent weeks made inquiries over changing its $268,000-a-month lease on Trump International Hotel, which is just a few blocks from the White House. The luxury hotel is owned and operated by the Trump Organization but it is in a federally owned building.
Tens of thousands of companies in Ireland and more than 140,000 firms in the U.K. have applied for government bailout money for furloughed employees. The Trump Organization’s golf resorts in Europe employ about 500 people. In the U.S., the Trump Organization has furloughed about 2,000 employees, according to various reports.
In Aberdeen, residents of the small coastal community that hosts Trump International Golf Links resort on a wild stretch of northeastern Scotland, have for years complained about the Trump family’s attempt to transform more than 600 acres of rolling farmland and environmentally important sand dunes into a world-class golf course and resort.
Attempts to expand the course has been beset by delays, some of them financial.
Trump International Golf Links has never posted a profit and lost more than a million dollars in 2018, the most recent year for which financial accounts are available. The Trump Organization’s other European golf resorts are also money-losing.
More than a decade ago, Martin Ford, a local Scottish government official, tried to block Trump’s golf development in Aberdeen over its environmental impact and because of concerns that Trump’s promise of 6,000 jobs may not materialize.
Trump International Golf Links employs about 100 people.
“(Trump’s staff) should be able to benefit from government support like anyone else,” Ford said in an email. “Whether a business owned by someone who claims to be a multi-billionaire is right to be seeking government funding is another matter.”