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October 7, 2011
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Obama White House Targets JW over Michelle Obama Travel
Last week I reported to you that Judicial Watch had received mission expense records and passenger manifests for Michelle Obama’s family vacation to Africa. Per the documents, we calculated that the total cost to American taxpayers was $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. Other expenses, such as off-flight food, transportation, security, etc. were not included.
Well, shortly after our documents were splashed all over the news, the Obama White House responded. As you might expect, they did not concede the cost of the trip. In fact, they said we got it wrong.
“The number stated is misconstrued and out of context,” said an unnamed White House senior official.
That is utter disinformation.
We came up with our number based on specific directions given to us by the United States Air Force!
As you will recall, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force to get hold of documents related to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s abuse of military aircraft. On January 3, 2011, we received a letter from the Air Force that explains how to calculate the fuel costs for military travel. Here is the relevant excerpt:
Our office was provided 100 pages of responsive records from the 89th Airlift Wing (A W) at Andrews AFB; however, they do not have records specifically related to the fuel costs incurred for Ms. Pelosi’s transportation. The 89A W Public Affairs office provided the following link to the OSD Comptroller public website at: http://comptroller.defense.gov/rates/fv2011.html where, along with the aircraft type and hours flown, you can determine the approximate cost per flight. The releasable documents attached contain the type of aircraft and hours flown.
Example: Mission # 16888 shows ETE (Estimated Time Enroute) as 05+45 (5 hours and 45 minutes) and return flight was 4 hours and 45 minutes. The Aircraft type was C3 7, found on page two. Go to link: Change Fiscal Year to 2010, find Air Force heading, then locate C-7A under Type. Cost per hour is $1623.00. Therefore, 10 hours would = $16230.00. The hourly costs are derived from various charges, to include local maintenance, depot maintenance, personnel, etc.
We used this exact same formula to calculate the cost of Michelle Obama’s trip. So if the White House has a beef over the numbers, it’s with the U.S. Air Force, not us. But really this response has nothing to do with the numbers.
Regarding the nature of the trip, the unnamed senior White House official also argued “against any suggestion that this trip was a vacation,” noting there were 5-7 official events each day. But was it really necessary for Michelle Obama to bring her daughters, niece, nephew and mother on this “official” trip (or a separate make-up and hair stylist, for that matter)? What role did any of them play in helping to advance the business of the United States? Would the entire mission have been at risk if Michelle Obama had not brought her extended family along for the ride or for the safari?
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- USDA Farmers Market Sells Contaminated Food
- Illegal Alien Free To Work During Drunk-Driving Sentence
(Regarding the Obama girls being listed as “Senior Staff,” the White House claims this designation only describes where passengers are seated on the plane. But this is a distinction without a difference. You can see for yourself in the documents how they are listed. And it only underscores the point that this trip should have been official and that Mrs. Obama should be traveling with her staff on these official business trips.)
By the way, if there is any disagreement regarding the cost of the trip, here’s an idea: Why doesn’t the Obama administration stop stonewalling and release a detailed tally of all of the costs associated with this trip instead of forcing Judicial Watch to file a lawsuit to get the information?
I’ll tell you why – because the Obama White House is embarrassed by the total cost of this trip in light of the state of the economy and record federal deficits. The White House was put on the defensive by our discovery and the resulting international media. I’m sure the Obama White House was really piqued because the news on Michelle Obama’s luxury military jet safari junket is at odds with its orchestrated PR campaign to make the First Lady seem like the typical, price-conscious Target shopper.
As I said in my response to ABC News, which printed the anonymous White House rebuttal, “Once again the White House is trying to play the American people for fools.” And, true to form, White House fronts on the Internet began attacking Judicial Watch and me personally for doing our watchdog work.
We won’t be intimidated by the Obama gang.
The White House can dissemble all it wants, but the fact remains this trip was an expensive junket for the Obama family that wasted valuable military resources.
Obama NLRB Cheering Union Attack on Boeing
A few weeks ago, I told you that Jim Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, did some cheerleading for the Obama presidential campaign. In a controversial and radical Labor Day speech, Hoffa urged union members to get out the vote for Democrats: “President Obama, this is your army…Everybody here has got to vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to America where we belong.”
You read that right. A union boss urged union voters to “take these sons of bitches out,” referring specifically to Tea Party activists.
Well, this week we released documents from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concerning the NLRB’s decision to file a lawsuit against Seattle-based Boeing for opening a $750 million non-union assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, to manufacture its Dreamliner plane. (The NLRB is currently controlled by Obama appointees.) The new NRLB documents include internal correspondence between NLRB attorneys discussing the Boeing lawsuit. We had asked for these documents back in July and we only received them this week because we sued in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Here’s one thing you’ll see when reviewing these documents: The cheerleading goes both ways.
- A May 5, 2011, email from Barry Kearney, Associate General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, to colleagues at NLRB concerning a press release issued by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) attacking Boeing: “Hooray for the red, white and blue.” NLRB attorney Miriam Szapiro responded shortly thereafter, “Good. I like this part [at last they can put it to some good use]: “the NLRB’s long-term professional Regional Staff, National Office of Advice and General Counsel reviewed this case for a year…”
- A July 12, 2011, email from NLRB Regional Director Richard Ahearn to NLRB hearing officer Peter Finch, responding to an article in The Hill newspaper about a request from Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, seeking documents related to the NLRB Boeing lawsuit: “We will politely decline.” (Mr. Ahearn signed the NRLB complaint against Boeing.)
- A May 5, 2011, email from NLRB attorney Miriam Szapiro warning an unknown recipient (name blacked out) about reading a Wall Street Journal article supporting Boeing and criticizing compulsory unionism: “don’t look at yesterday’s WSJ; you’ll puke.”
- In response to an April 29, 2011, Wall Street Journal article, calling on President Obama to explain the NLRB lawsuit against Boeing, NLRB attorney Jayme Sophir issues a one word email response on May 2, 2011 to NLRB attorney Debra Willen, Division of Advice: “Ugh.”
So, in summary: Obama NLRB attorneys believe the union attack on Boeing is “patriotic” and they plan to stonewall Congress over the release of information related to why they filed the Boeing lawsuit. This is another striking example of Obama administration shameful secrecy and corruption!
The NLRB is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of labor disputes, not a cheerleader for unions. These documents confirm that the Obama NLRB is abusing its power on behalf of a powerful union to attack a major U.S. corporation. Little wonder, then, that we had to sue the Obama administration to get the documents.
By way of review, the NLRB filed a lawsuit in April 2011, against Boeing claiming that the company’s decision to open a Dreamliner production line in South Carolina was in retaliation against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for a series of union strikes that reportedly slowed production of the plane in 2008 in Washington State. According to Boeing, the NLRB’s “claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent. Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region.”
Last year, President Obama bypassed the U.S. Senate and recess-appointed Craig Becker to head the NLRB’s five-member board. The Becker appointment was made after the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate refused to move forward on his confirmation. An ally of ACORN, Becker had previously worked for the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, which are major financial backers of Obama and the Democratic Party. Controversially, Becker has refused to recuse himself from certain NLRB decisions affecting his former union clients.
Judicial Watch expects to obtain more documents from the NRLB related to this scandal and I will be sure to keep you updated in this space.
JW Releases Shocking New Obama Czar Report
Barack Obama has made a number of decisions during his tenure proving that he has little regard for the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law. At the top of the list is Obama’s penchant for installing radical leftists as czars in his administration without the constitutionally-mandated vetting and approval by the U.S. Senate.
These political appointees, called “czars,” are powerful and difficult to track. Nonetheless, Judicial Watch’s investigation team has taken on the important and exhaustive task of documenting these czar appointments (which number 45 according to our latest tally) and detailing the control these czars have over government operations.
The result of their efforts is a new Judicial Watch special report entitled “President Obama’s Czars.”
From the report’s introduction:
This Judicial Watch Special Report analyzes the proliferation of so-called “czars” in the Obama administration. President Barack Obama has installed personal advisors in czar positions in the White House and has created new czar positions elsewhere in the Executive Branch. As of the date of this report, the number of czars that have been appointed by the President, or by others in his administration, appears to total 45. In addition, there are as many as 18 other unfilled or planned czar positions.
Many of these “czars” are unconfirmed by the Senate and are largely unaccountable to Congress. Further, their activities are often outside the reach of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), creating a veil of secrecy about their precise role in the administration.
The new report is available at Judicial Watch’s website, www.judicialwatch.org. Among the report’s findings are the following:
- Czar appointees have seized unprecedented control over major aspects of government policy and programs. In some instances, unconfirmed czars have authority, in seeming violation of the U.S. Constitution, over certain Senate-confirmed officers.
- A number of the czars have been linked to scandals, thefts and kickbacks, flagrant and offensive statements, conflicts of interest, and radical leftist political ideologies and policies.
Barack Obama’s unconstitutional use of czars to help run his administration is at odds with republican, limited, and accountable government. Obama has simply installed his allies in various positions of power while thumbing his nose at Congress and the American people.
As we document in this report, too many of these czars have proven to be corrupt or radical (or sometimes both). No wonder the Obama administration fights tooth-and-nail to allow these czars to operate in secret. Thankfully, our investigators managed to develop this comprehensive list of czars as part of our efforts to ensure government accountability. (Our report details 18 unfilled czar positions!)
By the way, it is important to note that Obama’s list of czars is constantly shifting as scandals force some corrupt czars from office (see former Consumer Czar Elizabeth Warren for just one example).
Moreover, every time Obama creates a new federal government bureaucracy he also creates the opportunity for more czars to join the Obama Big Government team. For example, Townhall’s Lurita Doan reported this week that more czars may be on the way courtesy of the president’s new “Jobs Act”:
Obama is proposing a new group of czars as a part of his “jobs” act – the American Infrastructure Financing Authority (AIFA) czars. President Obama’s newest czars will be given the authority to manage over a trillion dollars of federal funding for roads, bridges, buildings, waterways, dams and other infrastructure.
We’ll be sure to add them to our list.
Until next week…
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