U.S. sued over Michelle's secretive 'family outing'
'How much did the American people spend to send the first lady' on safari?
August 25, 2011
By Bob Unruh
WND Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit over the federal government's refusal to disclose how much taxpayers spent to sendMichelle Obama on a "family outing" that included a safari in Africa.
The organization, which investigates and fights government corruption, earlier documented what appears to many to be the extravagant spending by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Records showed Pelosi cost taxpayers $101,000 for in-flight food and alcohol over a period in 2008 and 2009. At one point she instructed the Air Force to provide chocolate-covered strawberries for a snack, since it was her birthday. "Dark chocolate preferred" was the order.
Now Judicial Watchwants to know what taxpayers are spending for Michelle Obama's vacations.
"How much did the American people spend to send the First Lady on a family outing in Africa?
That's what we want to know," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
"On the surface, the trip seems to have been totally unnecessary and was as much an excuse for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a mission intended to advance the nation's business in Africa."
The organization requested information in June regarding the expenses for the trip. The request included records for the mission taskings for the June 21-27 trip to South Africa and Botswana, the transportation costs and all passenger manifests for the trip.
The government had until Aug. 3 to respond, but did not, so Judicial Watch now has followed up with a lawsuit.
"The professed purpose of Mrs. Obama's trip was to encourage young people living in South Africa and Botswana to get involved in national affairs," the Judicial Watch report said. "The First Lady's remarks focused on education, healthand wellness issues.
"However, accompanied by her daughters Malia and Sasha, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, the trip also included such tourist events as visits to historical landmarks and museums as well as a visit
with Nelson Mandela," the Judicial Watch report said.
"The trip ended with a private family safari at a South African game reserve before the group returned to Washington on June 27," Judicial Watch said.
The organization noted that the White House Dossier, a blog by White House reporter Keith Koffer, said the cost to taxpayers for a C-32 aircraft for the trip alone was $430,000.
This cost, JW reported, was based on an estimated charge of $12,723 an hour, which is what the Department of Defense charges other federal agencies to use that airplane. If a military cargo plane was included – which is typical for Michelle Obama's trips– the transportation alone could have cost another $200,000.
Additionally, there would be costs for Secret Service protection, the care and feeding of a numerous staff members, pre-trip staff work and others categories.
Publicado: 08-25-2011 11:04 PM
J.W. reported earlier that a "date night" for the Obamas – for a New York dinner and Broadway show – cost taxpayers more than $11,000 in Secret Service expenses alone. The organization said it is investigating such costs "in the face of a ballooning federal debt and a sinking economy."
The announcement about the court case came just a day after The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom touted the 10 million in public money Michelle Obama has spent on her
"vacations." "Branding her 'disgusting' and 'a vacation junkie,' [reports] say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on
expensive massages and alcohol," the London paper said.
The report said Michelle Obama is believed to have taken 42 days of vacation in the last year, including a respite in Spain that cost $375,000 and a $2,000-a-night sky trip to Vail,
The family currently is on another vacation, at Blue Heron Farm on Martha's Vineyard, where the rental fees are estimated at $50,000 a week.
The paper reported the situation was aggravated because the Obamas took separate airplanes to the Massachusetts retreat – even though they traveled the same day.
Also, the report cited figures from a Hawaii Reporter investigation into the Obamas' trip to Hawaii last winter, where the costs were $63,000 to bring Michelle Obama to town ahead
of the president, $38,000 for a beach property rental, $134,000 for staff members to stay in a nearby hotel and $251,000 in
The White House Dossier report explained South African U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau confirmed the African trip was partly personal.
"She's coming on this trip to talk about women's development and youth development, and South Africa is a leader in that, not only on the continent but globally," Trudeau said in the report. "A visit to South Africa is important for them as a family. She'll be visiting many struggle-era landmarks, including the Apartheid Museum (and) the Hector Pieterson Memorial."
Pelosi's spending habits first came to light through Judicial Watch efforts, revealing the $101,000 that taxpayers spent
for in-flight food and alcohol for her during that time period. It was last year she requested that strawberries be provided for a
special treat on her Air Force transport because it was her birthday. Not just any strawberries: chocolate-covered strawberries. "Dark chocolate preferred."
Then there was a follow-up report from J.W. that more taxpayer money – hundreds of thousands of dollars – were spent in the months before Pelosi handed the gavel over to Rep. John Boehner as Republicans took control of the House following the 2010 election.
Among the receipts: $130 from a Detroit store for popcorn, cheese puffs, Hershey's milk chocolate kisses, peanuts, Snickers minis, Nilla wafers, ginger snaps, mixed nuts, dry roasted peanuts, M&M peanuts, Kraft caramels and crackers.
That order apparently was connected to a congressional delegation trip to Detroit that cost some $24,000 in air travel expenses plus another $10,000 in miscellaneous expenses.
Publicado: 08-25-2011 11:05 PM
The records, which are linked Judicial Watch's website, include flight manifests,expense summaries, copies of receipts and congressional correspondence for Pelosi's trips in 2010.
There's not a grand total for the expenditures because of the nature of the reporting: Sometimes there were reimbursements listed for members of Pelosi's family traveling with her, and it was unclear whether those reimbursements were paid.
The individual files of 50 to 100 pages of details are posted online in three parts:
- Part One.
- Part Two.
- Part Three
The details include information on a May 6-10, 2010, trip to Afghanistan and Germany "to discuss issues of mutual interest in Qatar and Afghanistan, as well as conduct oversight on women's issues (troops) in Afghanistan and to visit with US troops and meet with government officials in Germany."
Tab for the military travel? $204,135.
And Pelosi "made a personal request that the 'maximum per diem allowance be made available at the enhanced rate of an additional $50.'"
Also uncovered were "numerous" trips by Pelosi between San Francisco and Andrews Air Force Base.
"Several of these trips included members of Speaker Pelosi's family, including her husband, daughter, granddaughters and son-in-law."
The Detroit trip? Costs were $24,336 for commercial air travel and another $10,046 in "expenses."
The Pentagon also paid for military escorts for the trip, the report noted.
Earlier reports documented that she spent $2,100,744.59 in military travel costs in a single two-year period. That included the $101,429.14 taxpayers paid for "in-flight expenses, including
food and alcohol."
"For example, purchases for one Pelosi-led congressional delegation traveling from Washington, D.C., through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq, May 15-20, 2008, included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey's
Irish Crème, Maker's Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine," Judicial Watch reported.
Publicado: 08-25-2011 11:05 PM
How Obama Spent His Summer Vacation
Barack Obama’s misadventures in Martha’s Vineyard are some of the stranger unforced public-relations errors in recent memory.
Spending a fortune to jet off to a fabled playground of the rich, while the country suffers from his recessionary economic policies, was a bizarre slap in the face to an electorate that has already come to view this President as arrogant and out-of-touch. “Optics” matter. Camp David is a nice vacation spot, too.
Naturally, Obama played a lot of golf on vacation.
Part of the problem with skipping off to the golf course so frequently is that when he plays a lot of golf on vacation, he gets heat for it. Upon learning that Obama “played
the trifecta” by hitting all three of the big golf courses in Martha’s Vineyard, Downgrade America finds itself wondering how much that costs.
The snarky White House response of asking about. Speaker John Boehner’s handicap was a disaster. It’s childish, it keeps people talking about the President’s incessant putting, it diminishes the stature of an office we like to think of as uniquely important, and it puts Obama in the middle of a very large glass house with stones in his hands.
Developments in Obama's Libyan war didn’t cut his vacation short, and the Great D.C. Quake didn’t even pull him off the links. The latter incident is a relatively minor
criticism – nothing happening in post-apocalypse D.C. required him to scoot off to a command post – but it looks really bad in context. Repeated images of Obama’s disengagement produce the kind of “optics” that play on an IMAX screen.
The media launched a desperate effort to describe the Martha’s Vineyard misadventure as a “working vacation.” They’ve even tried congratulating him for “working in golf during his working vacation.” Photos of him looking
serious while meeting with aides and taking phone calls proliferated.
Try Googling the phrase “Obama working vacation” to get an idea of how earnest this effort at image control has been.
Speaking of earnest, White House spokesman John Earnest tried to wave off criticism of the Obama vacation as “cable chatter,” saying the President knows “this is a job that he’s responsible for doing wherever he is, whether he’s sitting in the Oval office, or whether he’s caught on the golf course when an emerging action takes place.”
Publicado: 08-26-2011 11:10 AM
One of the problems with this defense is that Americans see the current economic crisis as unique, a view the Obama Administration has strongly encouraged. I would imagine the increasingly disenchanted public remembers all those loud promises that the President “will not rest” until “everyone looking for a job can find one,” especially since they were made as recently as two weeks ago.
Unique challenges call for remarkable leadership and
sacrifice, not scheduled vacation romps… much less a President who never seems
to do anything except show himself a good time, and raise funds for his re-election campaign. He’s spent plenty of time hanging around with deep-pockets supporters during this “working vacation.”
Now the President is getting some flack for the possibility that he’ll go home early to avoid Hurricane Irene. It would be damned silly for the POTUS to sit there and get pummeled. A massive hurricane is a perfectly good reason to end the vacation early. The problem is that people keep thinking about all the perfectly good reasons he shouldn’t have gone in the first place.
As the vacation wraps up with tales of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “disgusting” spending sprees - said total over $10 million of taxpayer money over the past year - and reports that some residents of Martha’s Vineyard will be glad to see the Obamas go, you have to wonder how the White House political team failed to realize how awful all of this would look. Who thought it would be a good idea to cram the huge presidential entourage onto a small island, at massive taxpayer expense, in the middle of a seemingly endless recession? Is Obama basically daring his last few dead-end supporters to abandon him?
Someone at Martha’s Vineyard took that dare, and put up a
sign on the route most often traveled by the presidential
motorcade: BAVACK STOP ACTING STUPIDLY
Publicado: 08-26-2011 11:11 AM
Michelle Obama’s Africa Vacation Cost More Than $432,142
October 4, 2011
by Paul Bedard
First lady Michelle Obama’s family trip to South Africa and Botswana in June cost taxpayers well over $424,000-June 21-27 trip cost $424,142, and that doesn’t include the food, lodging, and ground transportation for the 21 family and staff members.
Obama is like many first ladies, spending summers traveling on good-will missions, sometimes with family and friends. On the June trip, during which she was accompanied by her daughters and mother. They also took a safari in South Africa, well known for its beautiful Lion King-like settings.
The costs of the trips have often won media scorn, as did her trip to Spain the previous summer.
Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has obtained mission expense records and passenger manifests from the United States Air Force related to the June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by First Lady Michelle Obama, her family and her staff to South Africa and Botswana. Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to an August 19, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Judicial Watch is investigating the purpose and itinerary of the trip as well as a breakdown of the costs to taxpayers.
On June 28, 2011, J.W. filed a FOIA request seeking the mission taskings, transportation records, and passenger manifests for Michelle Obama’s Africa trip. Documents were only provided after Judicial Watch filed suit:
• According to U.S. Department of Defense’s published hourly rates for the C-32A aircraft used for the trip, Judicial Watch calculated the total cost to American taxpayers was $424,142 for use of the aircraft (34.8 flight hours x $12,188 per hour). (The C-32 is a specially configured military version of the Boeing 757.) Other expenses - meals (off the plane), transportation, security, various services, etc. - have yet to be disclosed.
• The passenger manifests confirm the presence of Obama’s daughter’s, Malia and Sasha on the trip. The two girls are listed as “Senior Staff.” The manifests also list Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, and niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, as well Mrs. Obama’s makeup and hairstylist (Carl Ray and Johnny Wright).
• The expense records also show $928.44 was spent for “bulk food” purchases on flight. Overall, during the trip, 192 meals were served for the 21 passengers on board.
The trip also included such tourist events as visits to historical landmarks and museums, plus a nonworking chance to send time with Nelson Mandela, a meeting that Mrs. Obama described as “surreal.” The trip ended with a private family safari at a South African game reserve before the group returned to Washington on June 27.
“This trip was as much an opportunity for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a trip to conduct government business,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This junket wasted tax dollars and the resources of our overextended military. No wonder we had to sue to pry loose this information.”
Previously, Judicial Watch uncovered that the First Couple’s 2009 “date night” trip to New York for dinner and a Broadway show cost taxpayers over $11,000 in Secret Service costs alone.
Publicado: 10-04-2011 04:55 PM
THE PRIVILEGED LIFE OF BO, FIRST FAMILY DOG
I want this job, it pays $102,000.00 a year. For that kind of money, I might be able to put up with the owner.
IN THE MUSLIM RELIGION, DOGS ARE UNCLEAN AND NOT ALLOWED TO TRAVEL IN THE SAME VEHICLE AS THE MUSLIM.
Bo has never traveled in the same means of transportation with the First Family.
WAKE UP AMERICA!!!! REMEMBER ALL THE OTHER PRESIDENTS WITH THEIR DOGS COMING OFF THE PLANE WITH THEM??? NOT THE OBAMA’S...
CAN AMERICA BE SO BLIND????
I guess since they had to swallow their pride and use the Gulfstream there just wasn’t enough room for the dog and one other person.
Did you know the Pres. flew BO, the dog, in on a separate smaller jet to Maine for their vacation????Wonder if that sets well with all the unemployed, hurting, US citizens who can’t afford food, but we can pay for this.
The above is true. I Google “Bo the dog flying to Maine “ and got 76,700 references verifying this. One of them follows:
Michelle Malkin: Just Plane Crazy: Obama’s Dog Flies to Vacation on Separate Jet
Doug Powers: The Obama’s arrived at their vacation spot in Maine, and the local paper, the Morning Sentinel, described the scene:
The president was the first to walk onto the tarmac, dressed casually in a pale blue Oxford shirt and khakis. A few minutes later, the first lady, dressed in black capris, a tank-top and sandals, walked onto the runway. Shortly afterward, Malia and Sasha joined their parents. Baldacci and his wife, Karen, presented the family with gift bags full of Maine-made goodies, including baskets made by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, popcorn from Little Ladb’s Bakery in East Corinth, iconic L.L. Bean bags, University of Maine ice hockey hats, and an assortment of other Maine foods and books. Karen Baldacci said the bags for Malia and Sasha contained one loon toy and one chickadee toy that sound their natural calls.
Arriving in a small jet before the Obama’s was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; and the president’s personal aide Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci.
The president who said the rest of us are going to have to sacrifice to get out of these hard economic times let his dog fly on his own plane? Not enough room on Air Force One (a Gulfstream on this trip) for a Portuguese water dog and Reggie Love?
OH, by the way, Mr. Love, Bo’s handler, is paid $102,000.00 a year to take care of him.
What side of the ballot will you mark in November?
Publicado: 10-05-2011 09:48 PM
Jack Welch: How I'd Fix The Economy (wants 0bama out!)
6 Oct 2011
By: Margo D. Beller
Special to CNBC.com
Saying President Obama has “shown no ability to lead,” former General Electric chairman Jack Welch gave CNBC his own three-part prescription Thursday for improving the U.S. economy.
Start with cutting 25 percent of current discretionary spending and 5 percent of military spending, which would save about $1.3 trillion over 10 years, Welch said. Then, freeze regulations until the current 9.1 percent unemployment level gets below 6 percent.
He also wants changes in entitlements, starting with means testing benefits. “I shouldn’t be getting Social Security. I shouldn’t be getting Medicare benefits at the level I’m getting,” Welch said.
Obama’s support for a millionaire’s tax is “a transfer payment. You take if from one pan, put it in the other. It doesn’t work,” he said. “They are spenders. They believe government should do more. They don’t believe jobs come from the private sector. They believe government creates jobs,” he said.
Welch said he is backing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among the Republican contenders for Obama’s job in 2012.
“I want to take this administration out,” Welch said. “They don’t understand how to create jobs...America is the greatest country in the world and we have everything going for us except a government that is not supportive of capitalism.”
Publicado: 10-06-2011 10:05 PM
The high price of impatience: Michelle jets off to Hawaii with the kids for 17 day vacation before the President can leave ... at a cost of $100,000 to the taxpayer
By Lydia Warren MAIL ON LINE, UK 16th December 2011
With thousands of families struggling to raise funds for Christmas, you would think the Obamas might manage a little thriftiness. But today, Michelle Obama and her two daughters fly to Hawaii for a 17-day holiday - days before the president joins them.
The separate flights will incur costs of more than $100,000 to the taxpayer.
Vacation: The President was scheduled to begin his trip on December 17 - but his family will leave without him.
Last year’s trip to Hawaii, pictured, was also delayed Obama has vowed to stay in Washington until Congress passes an extension of the payroll tax cut and will join his family before Christmas.
By not waiting for Congress to reach a decision before jetting off together, the family is inflicting eye-watering costs on the taxpayer.
When Michelle flew to Hawaii alone last year, it cost a staggering $63,000 - without security or staff costs - according to White House Dossier website.
Barack Obama previously said to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: ‘Michelle and the girls are going to have a great time in Hawaii. They don’t need me there.’ The president’s family covers the cost of a private beach front residence in Kailua, Oahu, for the vacation - a ‘Winter White House’ that costs up to $3,500 a day, or $75,000 a month. But the local and federal taxpayers help pay the bill for travel and security. Last year the trip cost more than $1 million, according to the Hawaii Reporter.
The move also puts the president at odds with one of his own executive orders that instructed agencies to avoid unnecessary flights, said the site.
Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have criticised Mr Obama’s holiday plans, which were originally scheduled to begin on December 17 for 17 days.
‘I just think it’s time to have a president whose idea of being ‘hands on’ doesn’t mean getting a better grip on the golf club’Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney Last year’s holiday was similarly delayed, but the Obamas added a few extra days to the end to make up for the inconvenience.
Publicado: 12-16-2011 08:05 PM
Luxury: The family will travel by Air Force One, pictured, which costs $180,000 per hour - or around $1,000,000 for a return trip from Washington to Hawaii
The president, who was raised in Hawaii until he was six, previously announced there were no public events scheduled for the trip. Senate Majority Whip Durbin said the president didn’t want lawmakers to leave town without reaching an agreement on the extension. ‘What the president made clear was that the House would leave at its peril, its political peril, and they will face the embarrassment of trying to explain why they’re taking the holiday off while working families across America are going to see their taxes increase,’ he said, according to Politico.
President Obama told lawmakers this week they could not leave for family trips until decisions have been reached. ‘Congress should not and cannot go on vacation before they have made sure that working families aren’t seeing their taxes go up by a thousand dollars,’ he said. A White House official said that the president and the Republicans could ‘all spend Christmas here together’ if Congress didn’t act.
FIRST LADY OF LUXURY TRAVEL: THE COSTLY TRIPS SPAIN: AUGUST 2010
Michelle Obama and 40 of her friends paid for personal expenses, such as hotels and meals themselves. But the U.S. taxpayer would have paid for the 68-strong security detail, personal staff and use of presidential jet Air Force Two. Payment for the secret service team ran at around $281 each - nearly $98,000 for the duration of the summer break.
Use of Air Force Two comes in at $149,900 for the round trip, not including time on the ground.
Mrs Obama’s personal staff, of which there were an unknown number, should also be taken into account.
HAWAII: DECEMBER 2010
According to the Hawaii Reporter, the bill for the trip included:
$63,000 on an early flight bringing Mrs Obama and the children to Hawaii ahead of the President $1,000,000 on Mr Obama’s return trip from Washington on Air Force One $16,000 to rent nearby homes for Secret Service and Navy Seals $134,000 for 24 White House staff to stay at the Moana Hotel $251,000 in police overtime $10,000 for an ambulance to be on hand at all times
SKI TRIP TO VAIL: FEBRUARY 2011
Michelle Obama and her daughters stayed at the Sebastian hotel on Vail Mountain, where rooms cost more than $2,400 for multi-bedroom suites. The family appear to have flown there on Air Force Two. They were escorted to the resort by about a dozen vehicles, including 15 state and local law enforcement officers.
MARTHA’S VINEYARD: AUGUST 2011
The Blue Heron Farm estate, where the Obama family stayed, rents for about $50,000 a week. Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama flew to the estate just hours before the president to make the most of the holiday - again, incurring extra flight costs.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the Coast Guard was required to keep ships floating near the property. The presidential helicopter and jet remain at the ready and security agents will be on 24-hour duty.
Publicado: 12-16-2011 08:07 PM