Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it obtained documents from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing costs associated with Michelle Obama’s controversial August 2010 vacation to Spain. According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the records indicate a total combined cost of at least $467,585.
Judicial Watch obtained the Secret Service records pursuant to an August 2010 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. (The agency notified Judicial Watch that it withheld 78 pages of responsive records in their entirety.) Judicial Watch obtained the U.S. Air Force records pursuant to a March 5, 2012, FOIA lawsuit.
The following are highlights from the U.S. Air Force records, which indicate a total cost of $213,124.15:
According to U.S. Department of Defense’s 2010 published hourly rates, the total cost of flying Michelle Obama and her guests from Camp Andrews to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was $199,323.75. This is based on approximately 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel. Lodging cost was $10,290.60 and car rental cost was $2,633.50. Food cost was $876.30, including $57.68 for four bottles of maple syrup and a package of pancake mix.
The U.S. Air Force concealed the number of civilian passengers who accompanied Mrs. Obama on the five-day trip, citing an exemption to FOIA law. (The New York Times previously reported that Mrs. Obama brought along one of her daughters and “two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members.”)
Secret Service records, meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were $254,461.20. This total includes $26,670.61 for a chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol and $50,078.78 for a travel planning company SET P&V, S.L. (George Soros is 50% owner of the travel company.) Taxpayers also paid the bill for separate lodging for a dog and its handler.
As I noted earlier this week, from Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas, pages 90–91:
Even the president made uncomfortable jokes about why his wife needed so many things. Behind the scenes, aides said, the Obamas were concerned about money: the president’s books could only sell so many copies, and it would be years until he could write more and the first lady could write her own. From vacation rental homes big enough to accommodate the Secret Service to all the personal entertaining they did at the White House, their lifestyle had grown fearsomely expensive.
Lest someone claim the book is an anti-Obama smear job, Kantor began covering the Obamas for the New York Times in 2007 and based the book on multiple interviews with 33 different White House staffers.
And, of course, last week, when asked about the GSA scandal, Romney told me this.
“I think the example starts at the top,” Romney said. “People have to see that the president is not taking elaborate vacations and spending in a way that is inconsistent with the state of the overall economy and the state of the American family.”