Judicial Watch Sues U.S. Secret Service for Records Detailing Security Costs for Obama Daughter’s Spring Break Trip to Mexico
SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
Obama White House Reportedly Orders the Removal of Online Press Reports That 25 Secret Service Agents Accompanied Malia Obama on Vacation
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on September 20, 2012, against the United States Secret Service to obtain records detailing any government funds expended on First Daughter Malia Obama’s March 2012 Spring Break vacation to Mexico. On March 19, 2012, the Obama White House reportedly ordered the removal of press reports detailing the trip, including news that Malia Obama was accompanied by 25 U.S. Secret Service Agents. (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Secret Service (No. 1:12-cv-01562)).
Judicial Watch seeks the following records pertaining to its original March 29, 2012, FOIA request:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the expenditure of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or any other services for Malia Obama and any companions during her March 2012 visit to Mexico.
According to a U.S. Postal Service record, the Secret Service received Judicial Watch’s request on April 6, 2012. By law, the Secret Service was required to respond to the FOIA request by May 4, 2012. However, to date, the agency has failed to release the requested records, details why the records must be withheld, or indicate when a response will be forthcoming.
On Monday, March 19, numerous online press outlets reported that the President’s 13-year-old daughter, Malia Obama, was on a Spring Break trip to Mexico accompanied by 25 U.S. Secret Service Agents and as many as 12 of her friends. However, shortly after the press reports surfaced, they were quickly removed from the Internet. The trip reportedly took place shortly after the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a statement advising students on Spring Break “to avoid Mexico.”
As reported by Politico: “The AFP, the Huffington Post and other websites have scrubbed a report about first daughter Malia Obama’s school trip. On Monday, the AFP reported that Obama’s daughter was on a school trip along with a number of friends and 25 Secret Service agents. The story was picked up by Yahoo, the Huffington Post, and the International Business Times, as well as UK publications like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph and other overseas publications like The Australian. But on Monday night, the story had been removed from those sites.”
In an update to this story, Politico published a statement issued by Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, indicating that the removal of these news stories was “a White House effort:” “From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls,” stated Ms. Schake.
“Contrary to federal law, the Obama administration has simply ignored this basic FOIA request. I have little doubt that this stonewall is because of the embarrassment of the security costs for the Spring Break trip of the Obamas’ daughter,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch has been active in documenting the cost to taxpayers for the Obamas’ personal trips. For example, Judicial previously obtained records from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing Michelle Obama’s February 2012 President’s Day weekend ski vacation to Aspen, Colorado, with her two daughters. The records indicate U.S. Secret Service costs, including accommodations at the Fasching Haus deluxe condominium and the Inn at Aspen, were $48,950.38.
Judicial Watch also 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 also obtained documents detailing costs 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.