Exclusive: Judicial Watch Investigating Cost of Sasha, Malia Bahamas Trip
Watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of President Barack Obama’s administration for expense details on first daughters Sasha’s and Malia’s spring break vacation, the organization’s president Tom Fitton told Breitbart News.
“The Obamas' unnecessary personal luxury travel is an abuse of office in this age of sequester, unemployment, and out-of-control government debt,” Fitton said, giving his reason for the investigation. “Taxpayers are right to wonder why the Obamas repeatedly take personal trips with seemingly little regard for the resulting drain on precious tax dollars."
Breitbart News broke the story Monday that Sasha and Malia are spending their spring breaks at the ritzy Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Secret Service spokesman Bryan Leary declined to answer when Breitbart News asked him for details on the cost of the trip and how many Secret Service agents or other resources are assigned to this trip, instead saying the agency would not confirm or deny trip details for anyone under its protection, including Sasha and Malia.
First lady Michelle Obama’s spokeswoman, who speaks on behalf of the first family on matters such as these, similarly did not provide those details when asked.
When Malia Obama went on a spring break trip to Mexico last year, she brought at least 12 friends and 25 Secret Service agents. According to Judicial Watch’s findings, the cost of that trip was $115,500.87.
Per Judicial Watch, specific details for Malia’s Mexico trip include:
Ground transportation: $23,964.81
“Vouchers”: $21,636.14 (not itemized)
Support Charges: $449.66 (travel for one from Mexico City to Oaxaca, not itemized)
The administration legally has 30 days to respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, but President Obama’s White House has broken that rule in the past. Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request for records on Malia’s Mexico trip in early April 2012, but the administration stalled on providing the documents until after the election. Judicial Watch ultimately filed a lawsuit to force the administration to release those documents.
President Obama recently ended White House tours to the public, citing spending cuts from sequestration. After taking heat for the move, the President tried to blame the Secret Service for the decision. In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Obama said the decision was not one “that went up to the White House.”
“But what the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re going to have to furlough some folks,” Obama said. “What furloughs mean is--is that people lose a day of work and a day of pay.”
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, a recent GOP U.S. Senate candidate from Maryland who left the agency after 12 years, told Breitbart News that President Obama’s charge against his former agency is false. “The president’s absolutely not telling the truth when he said the Secret Service made that decision to cut [the White House] tours,” Bongino said. “That’s the core of it: he is not telling the truth.”
The White House estimates tour costs at about $74,000 per week. Other estimates place the tours at a much lower cost, some as low as $18,000 per week.
The cost of Malia's Mexico trip could fund White House tours for anywhere from two to six weeks. With Judicial Watch's investigation, the public may soon know how many tours the Obamas' current vacation could cover.
Photo: Derek Key/Flickr