With approximately one-third of congressional committees preoccupied with investigating Obama corruption – from Benghazi-gate, to the IRS scandal, to Obamacare propaganda – the First Family might be tempted to escape to some far away location for vacation.
As Judicial Watch knows all too well, this is something the Obamas have done with some frequency since taking office in 2009, and largely on the taxpayers’ dime. JW has been the leading investigative force on the Obama’s taxpayer-funded luxury trips, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get ahold of records about the costs of this abuse of the perks of the presidency.
Our feeling is that, especially considering the massive budget crisis in Washington, the president must be completely transparent to the American people regarding the cost of these vacations. Instead, however, all we’ve received is more stonewalling. The pattern, by now, should be familiar to you. We file a FOIA. The Obama administration ignores it. We sue to get the records. And often we are successful.
JW was back at it again on May 6, when we were forced to file a FOIA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Secret Service in order to obtain records concerning use of U.S. government funds to provide “security and/or any other services to President Obama and any companions on their January 1 and 2, 2013, trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.”
On January 2, 2013, Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request about taxpayer funds used to pay for President Obama and his entourage to travel to Hawaii, seeking access to: All records concerning use of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or other services to President Obama and any companions on their January 1 and 2, 2013 trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Per usual, we are getting the runaround. By a letter dated January 31, 2013, the Secret Service acknowledged that they received the request. By law the agency was required to determine whether to comply with the FOIA request within 20 days and provide Judicial Watch with the requisite notifications by February 11, 2013 at the latest. But as of May 6, the Secret Service had yet to produce a single record.
Veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler provided the public with important information about these Hawaiian trips when he wrote on January 4, 2013, that the “total cost to taxpayers of Obama’s vacations to Hawaii since becoming president is likely in excess of $20 million, and possibly much, much more.” Evidently, this is based on estimates for the trips taken by the Obama family during the Christmas holiday season in four consecutive years.
“According to a detailed breakdown by the Hawaii Reporter, the annual excursions in 2009, 2010, and 2011 cost about $4 million, much of it attributable to the expense of taking Air Force One, at an hourly rate of about $180,000, on an eighteen-hour roundtrip journey to Honolulu and back,” Koffler writes.
These trips to Hawaii are just one example of the Obamas jet-setting lifestyle. According to records obtained by Judicial Watch, First Family vacations since Obama took office have come at great costs to taxpayers. Those costs have included:
- In August 2010, when Michelle Obama traveled to Spain with multiple friends and one of her daughters, the total cost to taxpayers was at least $467,555.
- From June 21 – 27, 2011, when Michelle Obama along with her daughters and staff traveled to South Africa and Botswana, charges to the taxpayers for the aircraft and crew alone were $424,142.
- During President’s Day weekend of February 2012, when Michelle Obama and her two daughters vacationed in Aspen, Colorado, charges to the taxpayers were $83,182.99.
The Obamas’ opulent vacation lifestyle is particularly objectionable during a time when government debt is out of control. President Obama is not king and his administration should stop ignoring the FOIA open records law and account to the American people for the spending on his luxury vacations.
These vacations may seem but a drop in the bucket when compared to other examples of Obama’s spending-gone-wild, but waste is waste. And these trips are adding up.