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Taxpayer-funded personal travel expenses alone totaled nearly $700,000 from March 2009 to August 2012

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained documents from the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealing that between March 27, 2009, and August 24, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder accrued $4,263,704.01 in total travel expenses. This included $697,525.20 in taxpayer-funded personal travel expenses.  The documents were released to Judicial Watch in June in response to an August 2012 Freedom of Information Act request.

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Altogether, Holder took 213 out-of-Washington trips during the 42 months for which Judicial Watch obtained records. His 31 personal trips during the time period included two trips to Martha’s Vineyard with a flight-only price tag of $95,184.50, as well as eight trips to Farmingdale, New York, at a flight cost of $118,553.71.  On September 9, 2010, Holder took a one-day personal jaunt to Atlantic City that cost the taxpayers $7,408 in flight expenses alone.

Holder’s first taxpayer-funded trip noted in the documents was to an April 2009 “US/Mexico Arms Trafficking Strategy Meeting” (government cost “unavailable”) concerning gun-running between the US and Mexico, an issue in which the attorney general subsequently said he had no involvement. Among other controversial Holder travel expenditures:

  • In April, 2011, Holder charged taxpayers $15,452.50 for a speaking engagement at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York City.
  • In June, 2012, Holder charged $38,108.18 in “business and personal” expenses to address LULAC, a liberal group that strongly supports amnesty for illegal aliens, in Orlando and New Orleans.
  • In July, 2012, Holder charged an additional $38,108.18, this time fully billed to the taxpayers, to speak before La Raza, another controversial pro-amnesty group, in Las Vegas.
  • Also in July, 2012, Holder flew on a Department of Defense plane, at unknown cost, to speak before the NAACP convention in Houston.

The documents also include Holder’s personal expense form reports for room service and lodging.

As attorney general Holder is a “required use” official who must take government aircraft for all travel while in office due to “security and communications needs,” according to a February 2013 U.S. Government Accountability Office report.  The requirement dates most recently from 2004.  According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “For personal trips, Holder is required to reimburse the government for the equivalent commercial coach fare, which is often much less than the total trip costs according to the GAO.” Holder usually flies on a Gulfstream V, the same private luxury jet owned by former Apple chairman Steve Jobs and billionaire businessman Mark Cuban.

“I hope these documents help Attorney General Holder understand the burden his unnecessary personal travel places on American taxpayers,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “The notion that federal officials such as Holder have access to a fleet of luxury jets for discounted personal travel for “security” reasons should strike most Americans as a scam that needs to be reformed.”

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