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legitimate questions
August 20, 2019

President Trump's Scottish golf courses are raising some eyebrows, but not because of the beauty of their design.

HuffPost reports that Trump filed financial disclosure statements that appear to misstate the value and profitability of his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts. For example, in 2018, Trump claimed in his U.S. filing that the resorts were each worth more than $50 million. Meanwhile, he filed balance sheets with the British government covering the same time period that showed the resorts' combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds, which was equivalent to $64.8 million at the time.

In the U.S., his public disclosure pegged the income he earned from the resorts at $23.8 million, while his filings with the U.K. Companies House office in Edinburgh, Scotland, showed Turnberry and Aberdeen lost 4.6 million pounds, or $6.3 million in that timeframe. Finally, HuffPost notes that Trump's U.S. disclosure statement did not mention the $199.5 million in loans the president made to the resorts.

HuffPost reports that knowingly providing false or incomplete information on the form is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act and is punishable by up to a year in jail, while signing the form — and subsequently making a false statement — could result in a maximum of five years' imprisonment.

However, Virginia Carter, an ethics law expert with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told HuffPost that the Office of Government Ethics does give filers quite a bit of leeway in determining asset value, though she added Trump's numbers raise "legitimate questions," as it's unclear as to how the $50 million mark was reached. "The numbers don't appear to add up," she said. Read more at HuffPost. Tim O'Donnell

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