Judicial Watch Sues U.S. Air Force for Records Detailing Costs of Michelle Obama’s August 2010 ‘Whirlwind’ Vacation to Spain
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it filed a lawsuit on March 5, 2012, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the United States Air Force to obtain records detailing Michelle Obama’s controversial August 2010 vacation to Spain. Overall, Judicial Watch is seeking information pertaining to the costs to taxpayers for this vacation as well as any indication of official business conducted by Mrs. Obama while she was in the country (Judicial Watch v. USAF (No. 1:12-cv-00345)).
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks access to the following records pursuant to its August 25, 2011, FOIA request:
i. All records concerning mission taskings of First Lady Michelle Obama’s August 2010 trip to Spain;
ii. All records concerning transportation costs for Mrs. Obama’s August 2010 trip to Spain; and
iii. All passenger manifests (DD-2131) for Mrs. Obama’s August 2010 trip to Spain.
The U.S. Air Force acknowledged receiving Judicial Watch’s request on August 30, 2011 and was required by law to respond by October 13, 2011, at the latest. However, at the time of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the Air Force has neither released responsive documents nor indicated why these documents should be withheld. The Air Force has also failed to indicate when a response is forthcoming.
In August 2010, Michelle Obama and one of her daughters embarked on what the press described as a “whirlwind tour of Spain,” which included visits to coastal towns, shopping and a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen. The Obamas reportedly stayed in the luxury Hotel Villa Padierna during the vacation. As reported by The New York Times, also accompanying Mrs. Obama on the trip were “two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members.”
Mrs. Obama sustained heavy criticism for taking the vacation at the same time the U.S. reported a loss of 131,000 jobs. While the White House claims the Obamas “paid their own way” for the trip, taxpayers were responsible for certain costs, including Mrs. Obama’s security.
Judicial Watch previously obtained documents pertaining to 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 yielded a cost of $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. Other expenses, such as off-flight food, transportation, security, etc. were not included.
“That this lavish trip may be a source of embarrassment for the Obamas is not a sufficient reason to stonewall the release of records. Evidently, American taxpayers were stuck with a sizable bill so Mrs. Obama could tour around Spain with her family and friends. This administration, as a supposed steward of taxpayer dollars, has an obligation to disclose the full costs of the Obama family’s luxury trip,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.