A Democratic Congressional candidate in U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s district is challenging a statement the congressman made calling for Air Force officials to stop any investigation into Air Force crew who stayed at President Donald Trump’s resort in Scotland.
La Salle County Democratic Chairwoman Dani Brzozowski, who announced last week her challenge to Kinzinger’s seat in 2020, said the Channahon Republican missed the point of why the story gained headlines.
“The scandal is that, once again, Rep. Kinzinger has taken an opportunity to defend the continued lining of President Trump’s pockets with taxpayer dollars,” Brzozowski said in a press statement. “It’s corruption, and Kinzinger both participates in that corruption and defends it. That’s the scandal.”
Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, reacted to a Politico story reporting the joint Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard unit on a routine mission to Kuwait “went miles out of their way to spend the night at a resort in Scotland owned by President Donald Trump.”
According to the Associated Press, the military transport took off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage in March and spent the night at Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow.
Kinzinger wrote in an op-ed for Fox News the Air Force crew was given a per diem for expenses, and has the right to pick any location and food choices within that amount, including the hotel room, according to the Department of Defense travel guidelines.
Kinzinger called on Air Force officials to halt investigating the situation.
The Democratic candidate said Kinzinger’s response is removed and “tone deaf,” at a time when 40% of adults say they don’t have the ability to cover a $400 emergency.
“The scandal here, of course, isn’t that our servicemen and women stayed in a decent hotel,” Brzozowski said. “The scandal is that Rep. Kinzinger took this opportunity not to point out critical economic challenges facing service members and veterans, or to draw attention to the people in his district for whom staying in a Trump hotel is an unfathomable luxury.”
She said her father was a non-commissioned officer, noting there was a class difference between soldiers and commissioned officers, such as Kinzinger. She said her family was judicious in its spending with travel pay.
“I can’t tell you how many stories my dad has about his ‘accommodations’ while traveling in the military,” Brzozowski said. “Certainly, there was no horseback riding on the beach, organic Scottish seaweed spa package, or ‘bucket-list’ golf course like the one featured at the Trump Turnberry.”
Brzozowski said there are 1.4 million U.S. veterans who live in a household that participates the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“The scandal is that on any given night in the United States of America, there are upwards of 40,000 veterans sleeping on the streets,” she added.
Military flights making stopovers in Scotland are not unusual, and there were no rooms closer to the airport, an Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas said to The Associated Press.
A local government contractor made the Scotland reservations, and indicated there was not a room closer to the airport than the Trump resort, 54 miles away, Thomas said. He noted it was a reasonable distance to travel to receive the government rate for the rooms. He said the Trump resort had rooms for $136 a night, cheaper than a Marriott, which charged $161 a night. However, he said both are under the per diem rate of $166.
Air Force overnight stays are generally based on mission requirements and government fuel contract availability, Kinzinger wrote, noting the planning comes from the Tactical Air Control Center. Kinzinger wrote he preferred staying “at the nicer places” during his time in the Air Force, but some of his colleagues preferred pocketing the extra money from staying at a cheaper accommodation.
Kinzinger said if given the choice to stay at Turnberry during a mission, he would.
“It’s a choice, and it’s that of our service members to make — not the firing squads on Twitter,” Kinzinger wrote. “And this choice is in the regulation written by our Department of Defense.”
Trump, who owns hotels and golf clubs across the U.S. and in Europe, has come under criticism for frequenting properties he owns and profits from — giving them taxpayer-funded publicity and spending millions of dollars in taxpayer costs.
Source: The Daily Chronicle