Obama Family Vacation Breaks the Bank at Taxpayer Expense

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Washington, DC

The Christmas holidays are a busy time for Judicial Watch (JW) because corrupt politicians and bureaucrats often leak embarrassing scandal information during a time when many Americans are not focused on the news (and many reporters are on vacation). Sure enough, we received a Christmas document dump from the Secret Service about Obama’s travel costs. If the hope was to bury the information, it failed, as our JW team got the word out and gained headlines across the globe.

How would you like to vacation in Hawaii on the taxpayer dime every Christmas? Would your employer give you a nearly three-week break to do so? President Barack Obama and his family vacation every year in Hawaii – and now we have more of the outrageous costs you incur for his time in Hawaii.

Recently, we received expense records from the Department of Homeland Security revealing that Secret Service expenses for the Obama family vacation to Honolulu during December 2013-January 2014 cost taxpayers at least $316,698.03. These new expense records bring the total for the Hawaii Christmas vacation trip to $8,098,060.33.

The Secret Service waited nearly two years to produce the requested numbers to Judicial Watch. The records were mailed to us on December 22, but it took the U.S. Postal Service six days to deliver them a few miles across town to our offices on December 28.

The heavily redacted records were in response to a January 6, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. According to the records:

  • $91,751.78 in car rental expenses were paid.
  • $224,974.05 in accommodation expenses were paid to Cabana Girl, LLC, and Paradise Luxury Rentals.

The documents are heavily redacted, and the Secret Service is withholding 28 pages in their entirety.

Saying he was “eager to skip town,” Obama took his family to Honolulu on December 20, 2013, for a 17-day Christmas vacation. As detailed at the time by The Washington Post:

The presidential motorcade ferried the Obamas across Oahu, the state’s most populous island, to the well-to-do oceanfront neighborhood of Kailua, where as in years past they have rented a private home for what this time will be a 17-day holiday vacation.

For the sixth straight year, Obama plans to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Hawaii, gathering with extended family and friends — and, yes, perfecting his golf game.

His golf games must be the most expensive in history.

In March 2014, Judicial Watch released flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that for the 2013 Hawaii vacation, the Obamas incurred $7,781,361.30 in flight expenses alone (36.9 hours at $210,877 an hour).

This was the first Judicial Watch FOIA request about Obama’s security costs the Secret Service has answered since July 2014.

Our efforts to investigate Obamas’ travel began back in 2009 when we obtained Secret Service costs of the Obamas’ “date night” in New York City.

Click here for our various Obama travel exposés.

Last month, Judicial Watch separately sued the Department of Homeland Security for ignoring 19 other FOIA requests. The FOIA lawsuit asked the court to enjoin the Secret Service from continuing to withhold responsive documents from Judicial Watch. The known total expense to the American taxpayers thus far for all the Obamas’ travel is now $70,880,035.78.

It seems our lawsuits finally got the attention of the Secret Service. It is easy to see why the Secret Service, reeling from its own scandals, covered up these outrageous expense numbers for just one of the Obamas’ luxury Christmas vacation. The $317,000 in Secret Service expenses are only the tip of the iceberg for the true cost of the President’s 2013 vacation in Hawaii, which has now skyrocketed to $8,098,060.

It is nice to know that President Obama’s “tradition” of Christmas vacations in Hawaii comes courtesy of overburdened taxpayers.