Records Reveal Michelle Obama June Trip to UK, Italy Cost Taxpayers $240,495.67 in Flight Expenses Alone
AUGUST 20, 2015
First Lady, daughters, and mother spent week touring London, England; Milan, Venice, and Vicenza, Italy
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on August 5, 2015, it obtained flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that Michelle Obama’s June 2015 trip to the United Kingdom and Italy, accompanied by her daughters and mother, cost the taxpayers $240,495.67 in flight expenses alone. The records were released in response to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request filed on June 22, 2015.
According to the Air Force documents, the flights to London, England; and Milan, Venice, and Vicenza, Italy, for the June 15 – 21, 2015, trip totaled 20:35 hours at the cost of $11,684 per hour, bringing the flight expense total to $240,495.67.
Though the White House billed the trip as part of Michelle Obama’s campaign to push her “Let Girls Learn” initiative and “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign, press reports show the Obama entourage set aside substantial time for tourism. In London, Obama joined Prince Harry for afternoon tea at Kensington Palace. And the White House press office conceded that while in Italy, “The First Lady will also visit cultural sites in Venice before returning to Washington, D.C.”
The U.S. Secret Service has not yet responded to the request for attendant costs for personnel, accommodations, meals, rental cars, and related expenses.
Judicial Watch released records revealing significant taxpayer-funded travel expenses for a Michelle Obama trip in July. Those records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force showed that Michelle Obama’s 2014 trip to China cost American taxpayers $362,523.53 in travel expenses alone. Mrs. Obama, 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.
“The Obama family continues to bill the taxpayers for costly tourism jaunts thinly disguised as humanitarian crusades,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If Michelle Obama wants to take tea with Prince Harry or enthuse over Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, she is certainly entitled to do so, but not at taxpayer expense.”
Since the beginning of Barack Obama’s administration, the Obamas have become increasingly notorious for unnecessary, luxurious travel, under the guise of official business. According to records obtained by Judicial Watch through FOIA requests and subsequent lawsuits, the Obamas and Bidens have spent more than millions of taxpayer dollars on trips, beginning with the Obamas’ much-publicized New York City “date night” in 2009 up through the president’s most frequent golf outings and the first lady’s Aspen ski jaunts.
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, and where she stayed 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.