Michelle Obama's Family Ski Trip to Aspen Cost Taxpayers at Least $83,000

The economy has stalled. The unemployment rate remains high. American taxpayers are stretched to the limit. So what do you do if you’re the First Family? Take another taxpayer-funded vacation!

First there was the August 2010 vacation to Spain. JW uncovered documents from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing the costs associated with this trip. According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the records indicate a total combined cost of at least $467,585. 

And then there was South Africa and Botswana. JW uncovered yet more records detailing the costs of the June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by Michelle Obama, her family and her staff. Judicial Watch received mission expense records and passenger manifests for the Africa trip that described costs of $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. (Other expenses, such as off-flight food, transportation, security, etc. were not included.)

And now we have Aspen, Colorado, to add to the list.

Recently we released records from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing Mrs. Obama’s February 2012 President’s Day weekend ski vacation to Aspen with her two daughters. 

JW got the records pursuant to a May 31, 2012, lawsuit against both government agencies. (We asked for them first in February 2012.) Here are a few highlights:

  • The total cost for the Aspen ski vacation was $83,182.99.

  • The bill for the U.S. Secret Service, including accommodations at the Fasching Haus deluxe condominium and the Inn at Aspen, was $48,950.38. 

  • The cost for the flight, per official Department of Defense published hourly rates, was $22,583.70.  Food and miscellaneous on-flight items cost $235.44.  The cost for rental cars totaled $6,442.23.

Key details, including flight records for the Secret Service detail and the names of individuals who accompanied Mrs. Obama on the vacation, were redacted from the documents with the exception of two staffers. One was Meredith Koop, her personal assistant and style advisor, the other was her scheduler Kristen Jarvis.

(By the way, if you’re interested to know exactly what a “style advisor” does, here’s how one unnamed White House rep characterized the job, in a New York Magazine article entitled, “White House Confirms Mrs. Obama’s Assistant Meredith Koop is Dressing Her”: “Ms. Koop's responsibilities include advising the first lady on her wardrobe and acting on her behalf in arranging for purchases…”)

And what was the purpose of the Obama family trip? Nothing official, per the Aspen Daily News on February 18, 2012:

First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Aspen on Friday afternoon and is here with her daughters for a ski vacation.

Few details about her trip were available. Sources said she is staying at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, owners of the Aspen Skiing Co. She is reportedly skiing at Buttermilk today, where the Crowns of Chicago, own a home on the Tiehack side.

Several people have known about the “low-key” vacation, with the Secret Service in town for the past few days scoping out places for the family to relax and enjoy what the resort has to offer.

FoxNews.com, by the way, has noted that the Aspen trip was the 16th vacation in three years taken by the Obama family. So, doing the math, that’s an average of almost one vacation every two months.

No wonder we had to file a lawsuit in federal court and wait six months to get basic information on this trip. The costs of the Obama family ski weekend are staggering. These high-priced luxury vacations, and the lack of transparency about them, are beginning to seem like an abuse of office.


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