Judicial Watch Obtains Documents Revealing Cost of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Failed Bid to Bring 2016 Olympics to Chicago
Two-Week Trip to Copenhagen Cost Taxpayers in Excess of $467,175
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has obtained records detailing costs associated with a trip made by President and Mrs. Obama and key members of the administration to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the expressed purpose of securing the 2016 Olympics for the city of Chicago. Expenses for the two-week trip appear to have far exceeded $467,175, in light of the fact that costs associated with the aircrafts ‒ two Boeing 747s and several Air Force cargo planes – have not been made available.
According to the records obtained from the Obama Department of Defense (DOD), President and Mrs. Obama; Secretary Ray LaHood; Secretary Arne Duncan; Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Valarie Jarrett; and representatives of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport visited Copenhagen from September 21 through October 3 in an effort to convince members of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to select Chicago as the location for the 2016 Olympics. The Obama administration ferried dozens of other participants, including supporting staff members, to Copenhagen. However , the DOD has redacted many of their names.
Among the itemized costs associated with the Olympics trip (totaling $467,175):
- $235,659 Hotel rental for seven “offices” plus transportation and communications (through October 2, 2009)
- $33,044 Cost of extra day in hotel (October 3, 2009)
- $129,276 Travel vouchers for hotel, mileage, reimbursed expenses, and flight costs for persons attending
- $69,196 Flight costs for press
President Obama tapped Valarie Jarrett to serve as his “Olympics Czar” and lead the effort to secure the Olympics for Chicago despite her personal and business ties to Chicago, which included a stint working for Mayor Daley. Jarrett’s work on the Olympics bid would have violated Obama’s own Executive Order against engaging in lobbying activities prior to his administration. However, then-“Ethics Czar” Norm Eisen granted Jarrett an “ethics waver” from the president’s highly-touted ethics pledge so Jarrett could run the push for the Chicago Olympics bid. The waiver exempted Jarrett from the restrictions of President Obama’s own ethics pledge, even though she had personally led the bid before entering the White House.
Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to the DOD on October 5, 2009. FOIA law required the DOD to respond within 20 days. However, the DOD took 26 months to release the records. In September 2009, Judicial Watch submitted an open records request with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s to obtain records related to the Olympics bid, and the mayor’s office has failed to respond. Therefore, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the mayor’s office on November 10, 2009, seeking those records.
“Barack and Michelle Obama wasted taxpayer dollars on a junket that seemed designed for one purpose – to take care of their Chicago cronies who stood to gain financially from the Olympics racket,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The fact that Valerie Jarrett needed an ‘ethics waiver’ to lead this failed bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago tells you almost all you need to know about the scandalous nature of this trip.”