NEW DELHI – Government records show that taxpayers spent nearly $29,000 on hotel rooms for the security detail that accompanied Donald Trump Jr. to India earlier this year to promote his family’s luxury real estate projects – with many bills still unaccounted for.
A review of General Services Administration purchase orders shows that the government paid $15,166 in room reservations for “Don Jr Visit to Mumbai” and $13,468 for hotels in the western Indian city of Pune, for a total of $28,635.
A third purchase order for the city of Kolkata for the same time frame lists an additional $9,880 for a “VIP visit.” Officials at the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata declined to identify the VIP in question. The costs of the hotel rooms for the entourage’s stay in the capital – likely a hefty portion of the tab – as well as the airfare and transportation expenses remain unclear.
Trump Jr. came to India in February on a whirlwind promotional trip during which he was feted with champagne toasts and met buyers of four Trump luxury residential real estate projects in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and outside the capital, New Delhi.
Asked about the cost of Trump Jr.’s trip, Catherine Milhoan, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, said: “As a matter of practice, the U.S. Secret Service does not comment on the specifics of protectees’ trips.” A State Department spokeswoman said the department does not discuss the details of security matters.
The Trump Organization did not respond to emails requesting comment.
This week, Quentin L. Kopp, vice chairman of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the Secret Service is failing to comply with his Freedom of Information Act request seeking details on the cost of Trump Jr.’s India trip.
“It’s private business at the expense of taxpayers,” Kopp said Tuesday outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m a taxpayer. I resent it.”
The Secret Service is authorized to protect the president, vice president and their immediate family members – although Trump Jr. voluntarily gave up his protection for a brief period last year while on a moose-hunting trip in the Yukon.
But ethics expects have criticized the protection expenses incurred by Trump Jr., 40, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, his brother Eric and sister Ivanka while on promotional trips for the family’s real estate business.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in a July report that documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the Secret Service spent more than $200,000 on airfare, hotel rooms and other expenses when Don Jr. and Eric Trump went to the United Arab Emirates to open a luxury golf club last year.
Trump Jr.’s trip to India sparked considerable controversy after front-page ads in Indian newspapers urged buyers to pay a $38,000 booking fee to reserve luxury rental units in a new Trump Towers project in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon in exchange for a meeting with the president’s son, sparking $15 million in sales in a single day. He also had been scheduled to deliver what was billed a foreign policy speech, the topic of which was hastily changed to a “fireside chat,” after an outcry from Capitol Hill.
“I’m here as a businessman,” Trump Jr said at the time. “I’m not representing anyone.”