Michelle Obama’s August 2010 Vacation in Spain Cost American Taxpayers $467,585 According to Records Obtained by Judicial Watch
APRIL 26, 2012
Judicial Watch Lawsuit Forces Release of Vacation Records
(Washington, DC) – 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.
In August 2010, Michelle Obama, her daughter and friends embarked on what the press described as a “whirlwind tour of Spain,” which included visits to the coastal towns, shopping and a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen. While the White House claims the Obamas “paid their own way” for the vacation, the records detail some of the required security and other costs to taxpayers for the private trip.
“The American people can ill afford to keep sending the First Family on vacations around the globe,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips. It is hypocritical for President Obama to fire GSA officials for wasteful conference spending, while his family went on a luxury vacation in the Costa del Sol Spain that cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars. No wonder it took two years and a lawsuit to get these documents out of the Obama administration.”
Judicial Watch previously obtained documents detailing costs for a June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by Michelle Obama, her family and her staff to South Africa and Botswana. Judicial Watch received mission expense records and passenger manifests for the Africa trip that described costs of $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. Other expenses, such as off-flight food, transportation, security, etc. were not included.
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