JANUARY 01, 2016
Obama Family Vacation Breaks the Bank at Taxpayer Expense
Judicial Watch Files for Contempt in Supreme Court against State of Hawaii
Judicial Watch Comes to the Rescue of Congress in Climate Change Scandal
I hope your Christmas and holiday season has been wonderful. The Christmas holidays are a busy time of year for Judicial Watch because corrupt politicians and bureaucrats often leak embarrassing scandal information during a time when many Americans aren’t focused on the news (and many reporters are on vacation). Sure enough, we received a Christmas document dump from the Secret Service about Obama’s travel costs. If the hope was to bury the information, it failed, as our JW team got the word out and gained headlines across the globe.
How would you like to vacation in Hawaii on the taxpayer dime every Christmas? Would your employer give you a nearly three-week break to do so? Barack Obama and his family vacation every year in Hawaii – and now we have more of the outrageous costs you incur for his time in Hawaii.
This week we received expense records from the Department of Homeland Security revealing that Secret Service expenses for the Obama family vacation to Honolulu during December 2013-January 2014 cost taxpayers at least $316,698.03. These new expense records bring the total for the Hawaii Christmas vacation trip to $8,098,060.33.
The Secret Service waited nearly two years to produce the requested numbers to Judicial Watch. The records were mailed to us on December 22, but it took the U.S. Postal Service six days to deliver them a few miles across town to our offices on December 28.
The heavily redacted records were in response to a January 6, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. According to the records:
- $91,751.78 in car rental expenses were paid
- $224,974.05 in accommodation expenses were paid to Cabana Girl, LLC and Paradise Luxury Rentals
The documents are heavily redacted and the Secret Service is withholding 28 pages in their entirety.
Saying he was “eager to skip town” Obama took his family to Honolulu on December 20, 2013, for a 17-day Christmas vacation. As detailed at the time by The Washington Post:
The presidential motorcade ferried the Obamas across Oahu, the state’s most populous island, to the well-to-do oceanfront neighborhood of Kailua, where as in years past they have rented a private home for what this time will be a 17-day holiday vacation.
For the sixth straight year, Obama plans to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Hawaii, gathering with extended family and friends — and, yes, perfecting his golf game.
Obama is right now in Hawaii on another Christmas vacation. His golf games must be the most expensive in history.
In March 2014, Judicial Watch released flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that for the 2013 Hawaii vacation the Obamas incurred $7,781,361.30 in flight expenses alone (36.9 hours at $210,877 an hour).
This was the first Judicial Watch FOIA request about Obama’s security costs the Secret Service has answered since July, 2014.
Our efforts investigating Obama travel began back in 2009 when we obtained the Secret Service costs of the Obama’s “date night” in New York City.
Click here for our various Obama travel exposés.
Last month, Judicial Watch separately sued the Department of Homeland Security for ignoring 19 other FOIA requests. The FOIA lawsuit asks the court to enjoin the Secret Service from continuing to withhold responsive documents from Judicial Watch. The known total expense to the American taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel is now $70,880,035.78.
It seems our lawsuits finally got the attention of the Secret Service. It is easy to see why the Secret Service, reeling from its own scandals, covered up these outrageous expense numbers for just one of Obama’s luxury Christmas vacation. The $317,000 in Secret Service expenses are only the tip of the iceberg for the true cost of Obama’s 2013 vacation in Hawaii, which has now skyrocketed to $8,098,060.
A little less than one month ago, I reported to you our historic Supreme Court victory. Our lawyers convinced the Supreme Court to issue an injunction halting a race-based “Native Hawaiian-only” election in Hawaii. In August, Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of five Hawaiian residents and one Texas resident of Hawaiian descent who opposed the discriminatory election process (Keli’i Akina, et al. v. The State of Hawaii, et al. (No. 1:15-cv-00322)).
But, unbelievably, the State of Hawaii thought it could game the Supreme Court.
Just before Christmas, we filed a Motion for Civil Contempt against the State of Hawaii for its contravention of an injunction in the race-based “Native Hawaiian-only” election. The civil contempt motion alleges the State of Hawaii circumvented the order from the United States Supreme Court enjoining Hawaii from counting ballots or certifying winners in the election until a review of the case is completed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
On August 28, Judicial Watch sought a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to stop the vote that had been scheduled for November 2015, arguing that its clients would be denied the right to vote either because of their race or their political views, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Hawaii’s Act 195 authorizes the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission (NHRC) to create a list of “Native Hawaiians” who would be eligible to elect delegates to a planned constitutional convention that would then prepare “governance documents” for a separate Native Hawaiian entity.
Ultimately, on December 2, the Supreme Court ordered an injunction stopping the race-based election, which reads:
The application for injunction pending appellate review presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is granted. Respondents are enjoined from counting the ballots cast in, and certifying the winners of, the election described in the application, pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan would deny the application.
Hawaii violated the injunction on December 15, 2015, when the Na’i Apuni Foundation, a defendant in the case, allegedly acting on behalf of the State Hawaii, announced that all 196 candidates in the now-enjoined election will be seated at a February 1, 2016, constitutional convention to consider whether Native Hawaiians should seek some sort of federal tribal status. Thus, instead of counting the ballots and seating the 40 candidates receiving the most votes, the State of Hawaii, through its agents, declared every candidate running for delegate to be a winner and plans to seat them all. Judicial Watch’s attorneys argue that Hawaii’s gamesmanship is intended to ensure the success of the Obama Interior Department’s controversial plan to recognize the new Hawaiian “tribe.”
The plaintiffs ask the Supreme Court to stop the plan to seat all candidates at the convention, to impose fines to ensure compliance, and to bring the State of Hawaii’s election-related actions under the supervision of federal courts.
Robert Popper, director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project, is Judicial Watch’s lead attorney on the lawsuit and lead counsel for all plaintiffs.
This is a constitutional crisis. That is why we are asking the United States Supreme Court to hold the State of Hawaii in contempt. Rather than stand down as the Supreme Court lawfully ordered, Hawaii plans to proceed with an unconstitutional, race-based, separatist election that violates the fundamental constitutional rights of American citizens. We went to the Supreme Court because President Obama, whose administration is in cahoots with Hawaii public officials, obviously will not send troops to Hawaii to defend the rule of law, as President Eisenhower did to enforce the Supreme Court’s desegregation order in Little Rock.
The Supreme Court could take action this month on our contempt motion, so watch here for updates.
In the meantime, click here (behind a paywall) to view a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the Hawaii controversy and what it means for our nation by our friend, Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute and a plaintiff in the case. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a Hawaii-based think tank, has been helping Judicial Watch to investigate Hawaii’s plan for a race-based election.
Judicial Watch Comes to the Rescue of Congress in Climate Change Scandal
I don’t need to tell you that Congress has an awful record of oversight over the Obama administration. One could go on at length about why that is so but one key reason is that the Obama administration has contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. And because Congress is run by risk-adverse politicians who don’t care much about vindicating the rule of law and constitutional self-government, the Obama gang often succeeds in their obstruction. That is unless Judicial Watch gets into the act.
So, seeing an another example of this Executive-Legislative branch corruption, our team filed a lawsuit on December 2, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the same documents unsuccessfully subpoenaed by a House committee. We sued for records of communications from National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials regarding methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate models that attempt to justify the extreme global warming agenda of Barack Obama.
You may recall how, in late 2014, JW litigation forced out documents withheld in response to another congressional subpoena – one issued in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. Thanks to the Judicial Watch lawsuit, Congress finally obtained the information it had sought for years on Obama’s deadly gun-running scandal.
Sure enough, just like with Fast and Furious, less than a week after Judicial Watch served its lawsuit on NOAA, the agency finally turned over some of the targeted documents to Congress.
Judicial Watch sued the Department of Commerce after the agency failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted on October 30, 2015 – NOAA is a component of the Department of Commerce. The timeframe for the requested records is October 30, 2014, through October 30, 2015, and requests all documents and records of communications between NOAA officials, employees, and contractors regarding:
- The methodology and utilization of night marine air temperatures to adjust ship and buoy temperature data;
- The use of other global temperature datasets for both NOAA’s in-house dataset improvements and monthly press releases conveying information to the public about global temperatures;
- The utilization and consideration of satellite bulk atmospheric temperature readings for use in global temperature datasets; and
- A subpoena issued for the aforementioned information by Congressman Lamar Smith on October 13, 2015.
As you can see, we’re not leaving NOAA a lot of wiggle room to evade our request.
The purpose here is to investigate how NOAA collects and disseminates climate data used in determining global climate change. NOAA collects data in thousands of ways – from temperature gauges on land and buoys at sea, to satellites orbiting Earth. The federal functions and agencies that were fused into NOAA by Richard Nixon in 1970 go back to the nation’s founding. But Nixon followed the environmental mania of the day and created a new bureaucracy in NOAA along with the Environmental Protection Agency. Since then, and especially under Barack Obama, NOAA is now a taxpayer-funded arm of the radical environmentalist movement.
Now known as the “environmental intelligence agency,” NOAA is the nation’s leading collector of climate data. But it can’t be trusted. In July, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked NOAA for both data and internal communications related to a controversial climate change study that bolstered the global warming agenda. After the agency refused to comply with the document request, Smith’s committee issued a subpoena on October 13. According to Rep. Smith’s Science, Space, and Technology Committee:
In June, NOAA widely publicized a study as refuting the nearly two-decade pause in climate change. After three letters requesting all communications from the agency surrounding the role of political appointees in the agency’s scientific process, Chairman Smith issued a subpoena for the information. Smith subsequently sent a letter on December 1st offering to accept documents and communications from NOAA political, policy and non-scientific staff as a first step in satisfying the subpoena requirements.
As Congressman Smith wrote in The Washington Times, accusing NOAA of tampering with data in order to help promote global warming alarmism:
NOAA often fails to consider all available data in its determinations and climate change reports to the public. A recent study by NOAA, published in the journal Science, made “adjustments” to historical temperature records and NOAA trumpeted the findings as refuting the nearly two-decade pause in global warming. The study’s authors claimed these adjustments were supposedly based on new data and new methodology. But the study failed to include satellite data.
Information provided to the committee by whistleblowers appears to show that the study was rushed to publication despite the concerns and objections of a number of NOAA employees. In short, it looked like more climate fraud.
Judicial Watch sued the agency on December 2 and served the complaint on the agency on December 8. Less than a week later, on Tuesday, December 15, NOAA finally began to turn over documents to the House committee. That same day, NOAA called and told Judicial Watch that it would begin searching for documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
We have little doubt that our lawsuit helped to pry the first group of scandalous climate change report documents from the Obama administration. The Obama administration seems to care not one whit for a congressional subpoena but knows from prior experience that a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit cannot be ignored. Given the lawless refusal to comply with our FOIA request and a congressional subpoena, we have little doubt that the documents will show the Obama administration put politics before science to advance global warming alarmism.
This isn’t our first rodeo on the climate change scam – as we previously investigated alleged data manipulation by global warming advocates in the Obama administration. In 2010, Judicial Watch obtained internal documents from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) related to a controversy that erupted in 2007 when Canadian blogger Stephen McIntyre exposed an error in NASA’s handling of raw temperature data from 2000-2006 that exaggerated the reported rise in temperature readings in the United States. According to multiple press reports, when NASA corrected the error, the new data apparently caused a reshuffling of NASA’s rankings for the hottest years on record in the United States, with 1934 replacing 1998 at the top of the list. And one wonders why our space program has been a disaster!
You can see that JW is off to a strong start in the New Year. On behalf of all my colleagues, I wish you and yours a Happy New Year and health, happiness, and success in 2016!