Travelgate: Holder's Extravagant Flight Expenses Revealed; $100k to Martha's Vineyard
Attorney General Eric Holder has been caught spending more than $4 million of taxpayer cash on extravagant travel over the past four years, according to documents uncovered by watchdog group Judicial Watch.
In total, Holder accrued $4,263,704.01 in travel expenses between March 27, 2009, and August 24, 2012, including $697,525.20 in personal travel expenses paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Holder took a total of 213 trips out of Washington, D.C., in that timeframe, including 31 personal trips for which he used taxpayer money to pay for at least part of the trip.
Some of the personal trips he used taxpayer money for include two trips to Martha’s Vineyard with a flight-only cost of $95,184.50 and eight trips to Farmingdale, New York, with a flight-only cost of $118,553.71. On Sept. 9, 2010, he took a taxpayer-subsidized one-day “jaunt,” as Judicial Watch described it, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, with a flight-only cost of $7,408.
Holder’s first taxpayer-subsidized trip was to attend a “US/Mexico Arms Trafficking Strategy Meeting” in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Judicial Watch notes that while taxpayers paid for that trip for Holder, the documents say that the “government cost” for it is “unavailable.”
In a speech he gave to the conference, as Town Hall’s Katie Pavlich noted in her book on the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, Holder “promoted Project Gunrunner [the parent program under which Fast and Furious was run] as’a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels.’” In that speech, Pavlich wrote in her book, Holder also “spoke about the urgent need to stop the supposed flow of thousands of guns--he called it an ‘iron river’--from U.S. gun shops to the cartels in Mexico.” Judicial Watch noted in its press release announcing these travel documents that Holder “subsequently said he had no involvement” in the issues “concerning gun-running between the US and Mexico,” despite the fact he quite clearly represented the United States of America in Mexico on that very topic.
That taxpayer-subsidized controversial trip was hardly the only questionable activity Holder was involved in using taxpayer resources to subsidize his travel. Holder also used $15,452.50 worth of taxpayer money to pay for a speech he gave to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in April 2011 in New York City. Hecharged taxpayers another $38,108.18 in “business and personal” expenses to address the heavily pro-amnesty group the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in June 2012 in Orlando, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Those LULAC expenses were not fully billed to the taxpayers.
Holder did, however, spend another $38,108.18, fully billed to the U.S. taxpayers, in June 2012, to address the National Council of La Raza, a progressive political organization that also supports amnesty for illegal aliens.
The next month, in July 2012, Holder actually used a Department of Defense plane to fly to Houston, Texas, to speak before the NAACP convention. The cost for that travel is unknown.
Because he is the Attorney General, Judicial Watch notes, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Holder must fly on government aircraft whenever he travels, a criterion deemed “required use” due to “security and communications needs," according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). That requirement extends to personal travel.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a release announcing these findings that he hopes Holder understands how much he is costing taxpayers to go out and have a good time like he is doing. “I hope these documents help Attorney General Holder understand the burden his unnecessary personal travel places on American taxpayers,” Fitton said.
“The notion that federal officials such as Holder have access to a fleet of luxury jets for discounted personal travel for 'security' reasons should strike most Americans as a scam that needs to be reformed.”
Tom Fitton is the author of the The New York Times best-selling book Corruption Chronicles.