The Obamas have developed quite the reputation for wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary global trips. Michelle Obama’s family vacation to Africa is one very recent example. Another is the Obamas’ failed bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago back in 2009.
Just to set the stage, while the nation was facing a large-scale crisis involving Iran’s nuclear ambitions, two wars abroad and a failing economy at home, the Obamas decided to take an extraordinary excursion to Copenhagen, Denmark, to visit the International Olympics Committee (IOC). Their goal was to persuade the committee to choose Chicago, the Obamas’ hometown, for the next Olympics games. It was the first time a sitting president was present for an Olympics vote (they usually have better things to do).
Michelle Obama reportedly made an “impassioned” plea to the IOC, but it fell flat. Chicago did not make it past the first round of voting, and the Obamas came home empty-handed and utterly embarrassed.
Judicial Watch immediately launched an investigation to find out how much this “embarrassment” cost the American taxpayers.
And after more than two years of stonewalling and obfuscating, JW investigators finally got hold of records detailing costs associated with the two-week trip. According to these records obtained from the Obama Department of Defense (DOD), expenses for the trip appear to have far exceeded $467,175. And this number doesn’t even cover the in-flight costs associated with the aircraft ‒ two Boeing 747s and several Air Force cargo planes – which have not been made available.
Here are a few of the known itemized costs associated with the Olympics’ trip (totaling $467,175):
- $235,659 – Hotel rental for seven “offices” plus transportation and communications (through October 2, 2009)
- $33,044 – Cost of extra day in hotel (October 3, 2009)
- $129,276 – Travel vouchers for hotel, mileage, reimbursed expenses, and flight costs for persons attending
- $69,196 – Flight costs for press
And who was chosen to be part of the Obamas’ Chicago Olympics dream team?
According to the records, President and Mrs. Obama; Secretary Ray LaHood; Secretary Arne Duncan; Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Valerie Jarrett; and representatives of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport visited Copenhagen from September 21 through October 3. The Obama administration ferried dozens of other participants, including supporting staff members, to Copenhagen. However, for some unknown reason, the DOD has redacted many of their names.
You remember Jarrett, right? She’s the corrupt former slumlord once described as “the other half of Obama’s brain.”
President Obama tapped Jarrett to serve as his “Olympics Czar” and lead the effort to secure the Olympics for Chicago despite her personal and business ties to Chicago, which included a stint working for Mayor Daley.
Jarrett’s prior work on the Olympics bid would have violated Obama’s own Executive Order against engaging in lobbying activities prior to his administration. However, then-“Ethics Czar” Norm Eisen granted Jarrett an “ethics waver” from the president’s highly-touted ethics pledge so Jarrett could run the push for the Chicago Olympics bid. (Only in the Obama administration would an official need to have ethics “waived” in order to perform her job responsibilities.) The waiver exempted Jarrett from the restrictions of President Obama’s own ethics pledge, even though she had personally led the bid before entering the White House.
As I say, the battle for these records was none too easy. We filed our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on October 5, 2009. FOIA law required the DOD to respond within 20 days. However, the DOD took 26 months to release the records. In September 2009, Judicial Watch also submitted an open records request with Chicago then-Mayor Richard Daley’s office to obtain Olympics bid records and, surprise, had to file a lawsuit against the mayor’s office to get a response.
The Obamas tried to pass off this Olympics bid as “good for the country.” But let’s be honest, the Obamas wasted taxpayer dollars on a junket that seemed designed for one purpose – to take care of their Chicago cronies who stood to gain financially from the Olympics racket. Valerie Jarrett’s need for an “ethics waiver” to lead this failed bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago tells you almost all you need to know about the scandalous nature of this trip.