Obama July Political Fundraising Trips to Denver, New York City Cost Taxpayers $1,159,823.50 in Flight Expenses Alone
SEPTEMBER 22, 2014
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained U.S. Department of Air Force Headquarters Air Mobility Command records detailing expenditures of $1,159,823.50 by President Obama in flight costs alone for his July 2014 fundraising trips to Denver, Colorado, and New York, New York.
Obama spent July 8 and 9 in Denver, Colorado, where, according to the Associated Press, the president spent the initial evening at “a crowded pizza restaurant, a pool bar and face-to-face with a man wearing a horse head mask.” Images of President Obama drinking beer and playing pool became the subject of national headlines and criticism. The following day, Obama gave a speech attacking congressional Republicans before several hundred spectators in a Denver park before headlining a fundraiser for Colorado Senator Mark Udall, who did not attend the event.
On July 17 and 18, Obama journeyed to New York City for a gala lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. According to Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX-TV in Manhattan, “The White House says Obama will raise money for the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group that takes unlimited donations. Obama’s appearance will complete his gradual acceptance of the big-money groups he once opposed.”
Judicial Watch obtained the fundraising trip documents pursuant to a July 21, 2014, Freedom of Information Act request. According to the Department of Air Force records:
- Transportation costs for the president’s July 8-9 fundraising trip to Denver, Colorado, cost the taxpayers $695,894.10.
- Transportation costs for the president’s July 17-18 fundraising trip to New York City, New York, coat the taxpayers $463,929.40.
The Secret Service has yet to respond for Judicial Watch requests for documents about the security costs of these trips.
The Obama White House keeps secret how it determines presidential travel is either “official” or “political.” Political parties and campaigns are charged no more than the price of an individual commercial airline ticket, hotel, and food costs, if a president uses Air Force One in whole or part for a “political” trip. Secret Service and almost all Defense Department costs are borne entirely by the taxpayer. CNN noted in 2011:
A report conducted by the Democratic-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee while President Bush was in the White House concluded taxpayers paid for about 97 percent of presidential travel, the Republican Party just three percent.
The Obama July fundraising trips came at a time of mounting international and domestic crises. While Obama was giving fundraising speeches in Denver and New York, thousands of illegal aliens were flooding across the Rio Grande Valley, with one law enforcement bulletin declaring that apprehensions were at “historically elevated levels.” In Iraq, the terrorist group ISIS was seizing “vast areas of Iraq,” according to the New York Times. In the Ukraine, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down, and in the Mideast, Israel had begun its Gaza ground offensive. Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) harshly criticized Obama’s travel choices as “bizarre”:
So, he’s so close to the border. And let me say this. When I saw — and I hate to use the word ‘bizarre,’ but under the circumstances — when he is shown playing pool in Colorado, drinking a beer, and he can’t even go 242 miles to the Texas border?
“President Obama should be held to account for the exorbitant costs to taxpayers of his political fundraising activities,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This is a president who seems to spend more and more time filling political coffers and less and less time fulfilling the duties of office. The White House secrecy about Obama’s political travel costs is inexcusable. Given the costs to taxpayers of his trip, that glass of beer in Denver the president chugged may have been the most expensive in history.”