President Obama, who famously suggested he would give up taking vacations if he was elected president, has spent nearly $80 million of taxpayer money on vacations.
That’s according to the newest total compile by Judicial Watch, which has been monitoring those costs since Obama moved into the White House and started getting away to Hawaii, sending his kids to Mexico for spring break and his wife to Africa.
Judicial Watch said Wednesday the information from the Department of Homeland Security shows the Obama family’s August 2015 vacation on Martha’s Vineyard cost taxpayers $465,420.49 in Secret Service expenses alone.
“The records were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on November 24, 2015,” the organization reported. “Judicial Watch sued the Department of Homeland Security, of which the Secret Service is a part, because it had failed to respond to 19 FOIA requests from Judicial Watch since July 21, 2014.
The newly obtained records show Obama’s trip in July 2014 to Seattle and Los Angeles “solely for fund-raising, specifically to boost the treasuries of two ‘super pacs'” cost taxpayers $237,731.04 for hotels, $19,888.70 for rental cars and $1,451.40 for air or rail travel.
“Judicial Watch previously reported that Air Force transportation expenses for this trip cost taxpayers $2,425,085.50 – bringing the grand total to $2,684,145.60.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said taxpayers “should be incensed that the Secret Service’s resources [are] wasted to provide security for endless golf excursions, political fundraisers, and luxury vacations.”
“President Obama’s travel is a scandal. It’s about his abuse of the office and his abuse of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”
Chris Farrell, the director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch, told WND that expenses for personal trips have varied over the years, as have the number of “vacation” days.
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, often spent vacation time at his Texas ranch.
The costs there would have been significantly lower, he noted, because the Secret Service was dealing with one location.
“They weren’t getting hotel rooms, moving multiple aircraft, fleets of cars. It was predictable, constrained,” he said. “It was repetitive.”
The new details revealed by Judicial Watch include $1,604,380.50 for Obama’s Westchester, New York and Providence, Rhode Island, trip in August 2014, when the purpose “was for fundraising and attending the wedding of an MSNBC host.”
An August 2015 trip to Martha’s Vineyard, for the Obamas’ sixth family summer getaway to that location, cost more than $457,000 in hotels alone.
A trip to Palm Springs in February 2015 for a meeting with national leaders that featured golf, several Democratic fundraisers and filming of an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” cost taxpayers $1,189,985.70.
A weekend getaway for the president and his daughters to New York and an appearance at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser cost $576,803.85.
“The current grand total of known Obama travel-related expenses now stands at $79,630,433.93,” Judicial Watch said.
WND reported that when Obama was candidate in 2008, he told an interviewer that as the occupant of the Oval Office his vacations, his leisure and even his need for sleep would be sacrificed for the sake of the nation.
The comment came in an interview with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. It was recorded in 2008 but apparently not published online until 2012.
In context, Obama said: “You have to understand that if you seek that office, you have to be prepared to give your life to it. Essentially the burden that any president, I think, strikes, with the American people is, um, you give me this office and in turn my, fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure is gone. I am giving myself to you.”
He continued: “The American people should have no patience for whatever is going through your head because you’ve got a job to do. How I think about it is, um, that you don’t make that decision unless you are prepared to make that sacrifice … that bargain.”
And he noted: “I think what’s difficult and important for somebody like myself, who has a wonderful forbearing wife, and two gorgeous young children, is that they end up having to make some of those sacrifices, too.”
Hear the interview:
Since then, the Obama family routinely has spent weeks in Hawaii over Christmas breaks, golf trips in Palm Springs, family outings to New York, summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard and more.
Reported Judicial Watch earlier: “In Palm Springs, Obama played golf at the plush, private golf course of Oracle billionaire Lawrence Joseph ‘Larry’ Ellison. The golf course is located on Ellison’s 249-acre Porcupine Creek estate, which features a golf club and course, a huge 18,400 square-foot main residence, eight guest houses, a pool, spa, gym and an amphitheater. It was Obama’s fifth golf outing to Palm Springs in the past two years. The West Coast trip reportedly included political fundraising and one speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”
A New York trip was to allow Obama some time “hanging out with his girls,” according to an ABC report.
“In August, while at Martha’s Vineyard, Obama spent much of his vacation playing golf on the island’s plush golf courses. His partners included former President Bill Clinton, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, notorious Democrat adviser Vernon Jordan, as well as former NBA player Alonzo Mourning and the father-son basketball team of Dell Curry and Stephen Curry.”
The report then said: “President Obama evidently cares not one whit about the costs to beleaguered taxpayers of his personal and political travel. Why would any public servant think it appropriate to use an Air Force plane (and an army of law enforcement) to take his daughters sightseeing in New York? Barack Obama is enamored with the presidency’s trappings of power and taxpayers are left holding the tab.”
WND reported Malia Obama’s March 2012 spring-break vacation to Mexico cost taxpayers at least $115,000.
When the Obamas travel, the taxpayers fund the security, staff housing and transportation, communications, aircraft and other travel expenses. Security costs also are an expense, but many of those costs are not revealed.
Prior to a presidential trip to sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, the Washington Post reported: “Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency. Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.
“One hundred [Secret Service] agents are needed as ‘post-standers’ – to man security checkpoints and borders around the president – in each of the first three cities he visits. Sixty-five are needed to meet up with Obama in Dar es Salaam. … In addition, 80 to 100 additional agents will be flown in to work rotating shifts, with round-the-clock coverage, for Obama’s and his family’s security details …”
During the 2013 Christmas break in Oahu, presidential security essentially took over the entire island. In addition to concrete blockades and security patrols around Obama’s vacation quarters, his rental home was installed with bullet-proof glass, existing security systems were disabled, secure phone lines installed and his entourage brought in 20 to 30 vehicles. The Coast Guard enforced temporary exclusion zones in Kailua Bay, and armed Coast Guard dinghies patrolled the canal near the president’s rental home.
The 2013 17-day vacation in Hawaii for the president, his family, and staff and security was estimated to cost more than $4 million.
In 2014, WND reported two golf outings for Obama – to Key Largo, Florida, and to Palm Springs, California – cost $2.9 million.
When the Obamas went to Northern Ireland, at a taxpayer expense of $7.9 million, it cost $251,000 just for Michelle Obama and her daughters to go sightseeing in Dublin.
When Michelle Obama and her girls went to China, along with Michelle Obama’s mother, they stayed in a suite costing $8,350 per night. A “well-placed hotel staffer” told the London Daily Mail that the staff was “fed up” with the entourage.
“We can’t wait for this to be over, to tell you the truth,” a member of the concierge staff told the newspaper. “The first lady is gracious, and the girls are lovely.”
But he said Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s mother, had been “barking at the staff.”