Judicial Watch: Records Reveal Michelle Obama’s 2014 Trip to China Cost Taxpayers More Than $360,000 in Air Transportation Expenses Alone
JULY 15, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that Michelle Obama’s 2014 trip to China cost American taxpayers $362,523.53 in air travel expenses alone. The First Lady, her daughters, and her mother spent March 19 – 26 in China, in a trip highlighted by extended visits to some of the country’s most popular tourist sites.
Judicial Watch obtained the Air Force records on June 25, 2015, in response to a June 19, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the following:
- Any and all records concerning mission taskings of First Lady Michelle Obama’s March 2014 tip to China;
- Any and all records concerning transportation costs for Mrs. Obama’s March 2014 trip to China;
- Any and all passenger manifests for Mrs. Obama’s March 2014 trip to China.
According to the newly released records, the transportation costs for the seven-day trip to China were based on a flight cost of $11,092 per hour for the Obama family, and support personnel in a C-32A presidential aircraft. The $362,523.53 air travel expense tab for the Obama entourage was more than 225 times what the average American family spends on an entire week-long vacation.
The U.S. Secret Service has not yet responded to the request for attendant costs for personnel, accommodations, meals, rental cars, and related expenses.
The Daily Mail reported that: “Michelle Obama and three of her family members are staying in a $8,350-per-night Beijing presidential suite.” The 3,400-square-foot suite included a private steam room, and in-room dining for six.
Though the White House billed the China trip as an effort by the Michelle Obama to push her education agenda, much of the Obama family’s time was spent at popular tourist sightseeing venues. According to Diplomat.com, “The First Lady, daughters Malia and Sasha, and mother Marian Robinson visited Beijing’s Forbidden City and Summer Palace as well as the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, and the Chengdu Panda Base.”
“Once again, we find the Obamas abusing the public trust and raiding the taxpayers’ coffers for unnecessarily luxurious travel,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “The fact that it took us a full year to obtain this information about the First Lady’s China junket reveals that the ‘most transparent administration in history’ knows that its taxpayer-financed jaunts are so excessively extravagant that it ignores open records law to keep Americans in the dark.”
Judicial Watch uncovered an expensive combination of trips by the Obamas to Africa and Honolulu, which cost taxpayers $15,885,585.30 in flight expenses alone. The single largest prior known expense for accommodations was for Michelle Obama’s side-trip to Dublin, Ireland, during the 2013 G-8 conference in Belfast, when she and her entourage booked 30 rooms at the five-star Shelbourne Hotel, with the first lady staying in the 1500 square-foot Princess Grace suite at a cost of $3,500 a night. The total cost to taxpayers for the Obamas’ Ireland trip was $7,921,638.66. To date, the known beyond-first-class travel expenses of the Obamas and Vice President Joe Biden exceed $57 million.