MAY 14, 2013
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 6, 2013, against the U.S. Secret Service in order to obtain records concerning use of U.S. Government funds to provide “security and/or any other services to President Obama and any companions on their January 1 and 2, 2013, trip to Honolulu, Hawaii” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Secret Service (No. 1:13-cv-00647-ESH))
On January 2, 2013, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request about taxpayer funds used to pay for President Obama and his entourage to travel to Hawaii. The Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit seeks access to:
All records concerning use of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or other services to President Obama and any companions on their January 1 and 2, 2013 trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.
By a letter dated January 31, 2013, the Secret Service acknowledged that they received the request. By law the agency was required to determine whether to comply with the FOIA request within 20 days and provide Judicial Watch with the requisite notifications by February 11, 2013 at the latest. But as of May 6, the Secret Service had yet to produce any record.
Veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler wrote on January 4, 2013 that the “total cost to taxpayers of Obama’s vacations to Hawaii since becoming president is likely in excess of $20 million, and possibly much, much more.” This is based on estimates for the trips taken by the Obama family during the Christmas holiday season in four consecutive years. “According to a detailed breakdown by the Hawaii Reporter, the annual excursions in 2009, 2010, and 2011 cost about $4 million, much of it attributable to the expense of taking Air Force One, at an hour rate of about $180,000, on an eighteen-hour roundtrip journey to Honolulu and back.”
According to records obtained by Judicial Watch, First Family vacations since Obama took office have come at great costs to taxpayers. Those costs have included:
- In August 2010, when Michelle Obama traveled to Spain with multiple friends and one of her daughters, the total cost to taxpayers was at least $467,555.
- From June 21 – 27, 2011, when Michelle Obama along with her daughters and staff traveled to South Africa and Botswana, charges to the taxpayers for the aircraft and crew alone were $424,142.
- During President’s Day weekend of February 2012, when Michelle Obama and her two daughters vacationed in Aspen, Colorado, charges to the taxpayers were $83,182.99.
“The Obamas’ opulent vacation lifestyle is particularly objectionable during a time when government debt is out of control,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “President Obama is not king and his administration should stop ignoring the FOIA open records law and account to the American people the spending on his luxury vacations.”