Judicial Watch seems like it leans to the side of protecting taxpayers. Amid the controversies in recent months about spending excesses by some members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, there came this recent report by Judicial Watch about the previous resident of the White House, President Barack Obama, and the current one, President Trump. Neither one seems to be frugal.
Here’s the Weekly Update excerpt from Dec. 1, 2017:
Obama Vacations, Campaigning Cost Taxpayers New Total Over $114 Million
If you had the impression that President Obama enjoyed Air Force One a bit too much, you were absolutely right. It has taken a while to get the details, but we have them. And, make no mistake, we’re watching President Trump as well.
We have obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force and the Secret Service in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and two FOIA lawsuits for travel expenses by the families of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.
The total for Obama travel is $9,028,346.90 for this production of documents. Added to the previously released costs, the known total for travel expenses for the Obamas is now a staggering $114,691,322.17.
The total for President Trump’s travels in these documents is $2,821,367.34. Added to the previously released costs, the known travel costs are now $10,381,792.35
We obtained the new Obama travel records from the Secret Service as the result of a May 2017 FOIA lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (No. 1:17-cv-01007)). Our lawsuit produced the following travel records showing a total of $9,028,346.90 for Obama travel:
A pair of Obama family vacations the weekend of February 14, 2014, cost the Secret Service $272,192.91:
• Michelle Obama’s annual trip to Aspen with her daughters – where she shut down the airport for an hour – cost $6,970 in air/rail, $5,614.99 in car rentals and $76,078.30 in hotels for a total of $88,663.29
• President Obama’s annual golfing trip to Palm Springs included a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and cost $10,951 in air/rail, $10,166.79 in car rentals and $162,411.80 in hotels for a total of $183,529.62
• Michelle Obama made two North Carolina trips in 2016 to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Air Force expenses total $40,902.40. In both trips, she took a C-40C military jet operating at $5,312 per hour.
• Michelle Obama flew to Charlottesville then to Raleigh on October 4 for 2.1 hours at a total of $11,155.20
• Michelle Obama flew round trip to Belville and then Salem on October 26 and 27 for a total of 5.6 hours at $29,747.20.
In July 2017, we filed a separate FOIA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for the Air Force and Secret Service travel expenditures for the Trump family during April 2017 and Obama family between January 2009 and January 2017 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Homeland Security (No. 1:17-cv-01341)).
Air Force and Secret Service records show President Obama’s annual trips to his former hometown of Chicago cost $7,444,780.78.
• During fiscal year 2015, Obama flew 9 hours at an operating cost of $206,337 per hour for a total of $1,857,033
• During fiscal year 2016, Obama flew 5 hours at an operating cost of $180,118 per hour for a total of $900,590
• During fiscal year 2017, Obama flew 6.2 hours at an operating cost of $142,380 per hour for a total of $882,756
• Secret Service records show a total of $3,804,401.78 in costs between 2011 and 2016 for the Chicago trips. The Secret Service spent $3,372,399.07 in hotels, $423,428.28 in car rentals and $8,574.50 in miscellaneous expenses.
• Secret Service showed expenses for Obama’s post-presidency travels of $1,913,702.21 including: $936,742.56 in hotels; $159,393.40 in air/rail; $2,684.11 in car rentals; $819.70 in overtime; and $814,062.44 in miscellaneous expenses. The destinations of these trips were withheld under “privacy” and “law enforcement” exemptions.
Air Force documents showed two of President Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago cost $1,124,802:
• President Trump flew to Mar-a-Lago to meet with China’s President Ji Jinping between April 6-9 for 4.1 hours at an operating cost of $142,380 per hour for a total of $583,758
• President Trump flew to Mar-a-Lago to celebrate Easter between April 14-16 for 3.8 hours at an operating cost of $142,380 per hour for a total $541,044
• Judicial Watch obtained Air Force records through a FOIA request showing that President Trump’s visits to his Bedminster, NJ, golf resort and a Pennsylvania rally cost $603,107.40: President Trump flew to a rally in Harrisburg, PA on April 29 to celebrate his 100th day in office. He flew 1.1 hours at an operating cost of $142,380 for a total of $156,618;
• President Trump flew to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ between May 5-8, where he tweeted that he was saving money by not going to New York and causing a disruption. He flew 1.5 hours at an operating cost of $142,380 and .7 hours on a C-32A military jet at $15,994 for a total of $224,765.80;
• President Trump flew to Bedminster between June 9-11 for 1.4 hours at an operating cost of $142,380 per hour for a total of $199,332 and;
• Melania Trump flew to Bedminster July 14–16 in a military C-32A jet for 1.4 hours at an operating cost of $15,994 for a total of $22,391.60.
We elect a president, not a king with a royal right to travel at taxpayers’ expense. He should travel efficiently and safely, but not unduly. And it shouldn’t require federal lawsuits to prod the Secret Service and Air Force to produce information about the costs of presidential travel. Whether the travel is necessary or not, it’s a massive amount of money. We will continue to monitor this spending while taxpayers continue to pay the bills for presidential travel.