Inside Trump's controversial luxury golf resort in Ireland, where Pence spent US tax dollars and sparked outrage

trump golf irelandDavid Cannon/Getty Images

  • US Vice President Mike Pence was widely criticized for staying at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland.
  • Critics like US Senator Ted Lieu questioned the ethics of the vice president staying at a Trump-owned resort.
  • Lieu tweeted that Pence's actions are tantamount to "funneling taxpayer money" to Trump.
  • Doonbeg is approximately "an hour's drive plus a 40-minute flight" away from Dublin, where Pence was due to meet with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, according to CNN.
  • White House officials confirmed that the visit of Pence's entourage was paid for by US tax dollars, Reuters reported.
  • But the latest fracas involving Pence isn't the first time that the tiny coastal town of Doonbeg's been embroiled in a Trump-related controversy.
  • In the run up to the 2016 election, Fusion GPS investigated claims that Trump funded the Irish golf course with funding from the Russian mafia.
  • Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar later came under fire for lobbying on the US president's behalf in an effort to block a nearby wind farm.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Vice President Mike Pence found himself in the rough on Monday, when criticism erupted over the ethics of his visit to US President Donald Trump's Irish golf resort.

As part of his trip to meet with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Pence and his entourage lodged at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland. The hotel did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

CNN reported that the resort is out of the way of Dublin, requiring Pence to make "an hour's drive plus a 40-minute flight" to get to his destination.

Read more: After Trump tweeted out an image from a secret intelligence briefing to mock Iran, a top Iranian official trolled the president with a 'good morning' selfie

A Pence spokesperson told Reuters that the president suggested that his second-in-command stay at the resort, which he still owns.

"It wasn't like a 'you must,'" Pence chief of staff Marc Short told reporters. "It wasn't like a 'you have to.'"

Short also confirmed that the visit was taxpayer-funded, adding that the vice president himself paid for the stay of his mother and sister, who accompanied him.

This isn't the first time that Pence has shown a preference for Trump properties. The Daily Beast reported that Pence's political team has poured $224,000 into stays at hotels owned by the president since 2017. But this latest visit has prompted a fresh backlash from Trump critics like Senator Ted Lieu, who tweeted that Pence was "funneling taxpayer money" to the president.

It's also not the first time that the president's Irish golf resort has attracted widespread scrutiny.

Here's a look inside Ireland's Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, which has also been linked to Russian mafia money and a debacle involving a wind farm:
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While the vice president is at the center of this latest controversy, his connection to the small community in County Clare goes back further than 2019.

While the vice president is at the center of this latest controversy, his connection to the small community in County Clare goes back further than 2019.

Source: The Irish Times

Pence's great grandmother hailed from Doonbeg, according to the Irish Times.

Pence's great grandmother hailed from Doonbeg, according to the Irish Times.

Source: The Irish Times

The then-Indiana governor and his family visited the coastal town in 2013, around a year before Trump purchased the golf resort.

The then-Indiana governor and his family visited the coastal town in 2013, around a year before Trump purchased the golf resort.

Source: The Irish Times

The following year, Trump shelled out $29.2 million for the property.

The following year, Trump shelled out $29.2 million for the property.

Source: Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy

In the book "Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy," professor and attorney Seth Abramson writes that the president may have overpaid for the property to the tune of $13.2 million.

In the book "Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy," professor and attorney Seth Abramson writes that the president may have overpaid for the property to the tune of $13.2 million.

Source: Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy

Theories have swirled around Trump's foray into Ireland ever since.

Theories have swirled around Trump's foray into Ireland ever since.

Source: Irish Times

The Irish Times reported that Fusion GPS founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson testified under oath that he investigated the rumor that Russian mafia money seeded the Doonbeg golf resort.

The Irish Times reported that Fusion GPS founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson testified under oath that he investigated the rumor that Russian mafia money seeded the Doonbeg golf resort.

Source: Irish Times

According to Simpson, financial statements don't explicitly "show Russian involvement."

According to Simpson, financial statements don't explicitly "show Russian involvement."

Source: Irish Times

"What they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources ... but it’s hundreds of millions of dollars," Simpson said, according to the Irish Times.

"What they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources ... but it’s hundreds of millions of dollars," Simpson said, according to the Irish Times.

Source: Irish Times

One thing that is as clear as Waterford Crystal is that Trump's Irish golf course is a money hole.

One thing that is as clear as Waterford Crystal is that Trump's Irish golf course is a money hole.

Source: Irish Times

Abramson also wrote that the Trump plunked down $164 million to keep Doonbeg and his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland afloat between 2014 and 2018.

Abramson also wrote that the Trump plunked down $164 million to keep Doonbeg and his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland afloat between 2014 and 2018.

Source: Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy

The Irish Times reported that the Trump Organization lost €2.2 million on the resort in 2016.

The Irish Times reported that the Trump Organization lost €2.2 million on the resort in 2016.

Source: Irish Times

Still, the resort's website claims it to be a "5 star destination," that caters to "golf enthusiasts, families, and surfers."

Still, the resort's website claims it to be a "5 star destination," that caters to "golf enthusiasts, families, and surfers."

Source: Trump Hotels

In total, the lodge has 218 hotel suites and a spa. The Irish Times reported that the operation has a workforce of 300.

In total, the lodge has 218 hotel suites and a spa. The Irish Times reported that the operation has a workforce of 300.

Source: The Trump Factor: Unlocking the Secrets Behind the Trump Empire, Irish Times

At Trump's Doonbeg property, "guest rooms" currently start at €238 a night.

At Trump's Doonbeg property, "guest rooms" currently start at €238 a night.

Source: Trump Hotels

The most expensive "signature suite" that Business Insider found on the hotel's website cost €922 a night.

The most expensive "signature suite" that Business Insider found on the hotel's website cost €922 a night.

Source: Trump Hotels

Guests have a handful of Trump-owned dining options within the hotel, including afternoon tea, room service, Trump's Bar and Restaurant, and the Oceanview Restaurant.

Guests have a handful of Trump-owned dining options within the hotel, including afternoon tea, room service, Trump's Bar and Restaurant, and the Oceanview Restaurant.

Source: The Trump Factor: Unlocking the Secrets Behind the Trump Empire, Trump Hotels

The resort's focal point is its 18-hole golf course along the Atlantic Ocean.

The resort's focal point is its 18-hole golf course along the Atlantic Ocean.

Source: Trump Hotels

Australian golf pro and course designer Greg Norman was the creative force behind the original golf course at Doonbeg, which opened in 2002.

Australian golf pro and course designer Greg Norman was the creative force behind the original golf course at Doonbeg, which opened in 2002.

Source: Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, The Trump Factor: Unlocking the Secrets Behind the Trump Empire

Norman reportedly built the course "by-hand," meaning with minimal interference to the area's natural landscape.

Norman reportedly built the course "by-hand," meaning with minimal interference to the area's natural landscape.

Source: Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump

According to "Commander in Cheat," Trump completely redid the entire course after purchasing the land.

According to "Commander in Cheat," Trump completely redid the entire course after purchasing the land.

Source: Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump

To protect from climate change-induced erosion, the resort petition to erect seawalls in 2017. Trump has consistently expressed doubt about anthropogenic climate change.

To protect from climate change-induced erosion, the resort petition to erect seawalls in 2017. Trump has consistently expressed doubt about anthropogenic climate change.

Source: Business Insider, New York Times

Alleged mafia ties and Pence's recent stay aren't the only political scuffles that the Doonbeg estate's been caught up in.

Alleged mafia ties and Pence's recent stay aren't the only political scuffles that the Doonbeg estate's been caught up in.

Source: BBC

In 2018, Trump recounted how he lobbied Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in order to block the construction of renewable energy turbines.

In 2018, Trump recounted how he lobbied Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in order to block the construction of renewable energy turbines.

Source: Leo: A Very Modern Taoiseach

Trump reportedly feared that the turbines would hurt his business at Doonbeg, according to Varadkar's recounting of the interaction.

Trump reportedly feared that the turbines would hurt his business at Doonbeg, according to Varadkar's recounting of the interaction.

Source: Leo: A Very Modern Taoiseach

The taoiseach said he reached out to Ireland's state tourism agency, relaying Trump's concerns.

The taoiseach said he reached out to Ireland's state tourism agency, relaying Trump's concerns.

Source: Leo: A Very Modern Taoiseach

The wind farm wasn't built, but Varadkar said that the request to build the structures along the coast "would have been refused anyway."

The wind farm wasn't built, but Varadkar said that the request to build the structures along the coast "would have been refused anyway."

Source: Leo: A Very Modern Taoiseach

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