by Tom Fitton 16 Apr 2014
When it comes to tracking the cost of Obama family vacations, there are two primary challenges. First, the Obamas are prolific jet-setters, so there are many details to track. Second, the Obama administration, clearly embarrassed by these lavish and frequent family vacations, stonewalls the release of records at every turn.
But we have been relentless in pursuit of this information. Our attorneys file the lawsuits and make our case, and our investigators pour through pages of records and crunch the numbers. And the information we’ve uncovered – information that would otherwise remain under lock and key – shows that the Obamas have a disturbing lack of regard for taxpayer resources.
Most recently, when reviewing the Obama family travel log, Judicial Watch obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealing that President Obama’s June 2013 trip to Belfast, Ireland, including a Dublin sightseeing side trip by Michelle Obama, her daughters, and her entourage, cost the taxpayers $7,921,638.66. (Per usual, and owing to the enormous public interest in Michelle Obama’s luxury travel, our discovery earned quite a bit of press coverage.)
Here’s the breakdown from the two agencies.
According to the Department of Air Force documents, the flights to, from, and around Ireland for the June 17 – 19, 2013 trip totaled 33.6 hours at $228,288 an hour, which comes to a flight expense alone of $7,670,476.80 (These records came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information lawsuit filed on January 13, 2014.)
According to the DHS documents, the total cost for “security and/or other services” for the Dublin side-trip by Michelle Obama and her entourage was $251,161.86, including $55,004.85 at the Shelbourne Hotel and $70,855.44 at the Westbury Hotel. Vehicle rental charges were $114,721. (These records also came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information lawsuit filed on January 13, 2014.)
Now I can hear the White House’s defense. This was a business trip. It’s all about diplomatic relations, etc. And while this might at times be true for the president, it is certainly not true for the other members of the First Family.
For example, after accompanying the president to a meeting with Northern Ireland youth on the morning of June 17, the First Lady, her daughters, and her entourage departed on their own, apparently aboard Air Force Two, for a sightseeing side-trip to Dublin. Though the White House claimed the trip was for diplomatic purposes, WashingtonDossier.com reported that the itinerary showed, “She and her daughters will visit the Trinity College library to explore President Obama’s Irish family roots, attend a performance by the world-famous Riverdance troupe, and visit the Wicklow Mountains national forest.”
Yes, someday we will all hail Michelle Obama’s grand diplomatic accomplishments during her “Riverdance Summit of 2013.”
And purpose of the trip aside, is it really necessary for the First Lady to drop $3,300 per night on her hotel suite for any reason at all when taxpayers are picking up the tab?
Because that’s exactly what her Dublin suite cost per The Washington Times: “First lady Michelle Obama is sparing no expense on her trip to Ireland, staying at a $3,300-per-night hotel suite in Dublin. Irish press reports Monday said Mrs. Obama and her entourage have booked 30 rooms in the five-star Shelbourne hotel. The first lady is said to be staying in the Princess Grace Suite…” According to the hotel’s website, the Grace Kelly Suite features two guest bedrooms, a living room, and a dining area, and measures 1,530 square feet. More space for riverdancing, I suppose.
And the Obama entourage? Well they followed the First Lady’s lead and spared no expense either.
The Secret Service documents obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that members of the Obama entourage also rented rooms at Dublin’s Westbury Hotel. The hotel’s website describes the “glamorous, iconic 5 star” Westbury as “a great social hub and Dublin's ultimate city address.” The Daily Mail estimated the cost of Michelle Obama’s two-day trip to Ireland, in addition to flight and security costs obtained by Judicial Watch, at around $5 million.
The American people can see through the “official business” lie used by the White House to justify the cost of this trip. The Obamas clearly abused the perk of the president’s official trip to the G-8 summit for a luxury European vacation at taxpayer expense. And this is far from the first time.
In February, Judicial Watch reported that the Obamas incurred $1,164,268.60 in flight expenses alone for the August 2013 family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. In March, Judicial Watch released flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that the Obamas incurred $8,104,224 in flight expenses for their June to July 2013 official trip to Africa, and $7,781,361.30 for their 2013-2014 Christmas vacation to Honolulu – for a two-trip total of $15,885,585.30 in flight expenses alone. These numbers may seem astonishing, but remember they only skim the surface of the true costs of these trips.
The Obamas love to wax philosophical about the subject of transparency, but when it comes to covering up their abuse of taxpayer resources, their secrecy knows no bounds.