- Post 30 April 2012
- By Michael W. Chapman | CNSNews
First lady Michelle Obama in Spain in August 2010. (AP Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – First Lady Michelle Obama’s vacation in Spain with her daughter Sasha, several friends, their children, and some White House staffers cost U.S. taxpayers at least $467,585, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest group that fights government corruption.
Mrs. Obama took the trip from Aug. 4-8, 2010. That same month, Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Secret Service and the Air Force to obtain information on the cost of the trip. On March 5, 2012, Judicial Watch followed up on its FOIA request with a lawsuit seeking the relevant information.
According to the information Judicial Watch obtained from the Air Force, the costs for the travel services that Air Force provided to Mrs. Obama and her entourage totaled $213,124.15.
“'[T]he total cost of flying Michelle Obama and her guests from Camp Andrews to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was $199,323.75," said Judicial Watch. "This is based on approximately 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.”
Once the Air Force crews got to Spain, however, there were costs associated with maintaining them there while Mrs. Obama vacationed.
“The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel,” said Judicial Watch. “Lodging cost was $10,290.60 and car rental cost was $2,633.50. Food cost was $876.30, including $57.68 for four bottles of maple syrup and a package of pancake mix.”
The Secret Service records released as a result of Judicial Watch's efforts show that the service spent $254,461.20 in taxpayer funds on Mrs. Obama Spanish vacation. “This total includes $26,670.61 for a chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol and $50,078.78 for a travel planning company SET P&V, S.L.,” said Judicial Watch. “Taxpayers also paid the bill for separate lodging for a dog and its handler.”
“The American people can ill afford to keep sending the First Family on vacations around the globe,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips.”
“It is hypocritical for President Obama to fire GSA officials for wasteful conference spending, while his family went on a luxury vacation in the Costa del Sol Spain that cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars,” said Fitton. “No wonder it took two years and a lawsuit to get these documents out of the Obama administration.”
Other documents obtained by the watchdog group show that the June 21-27, 2011 trip taken by Michelle Obama, her family, and staff members to South Africa cost $424,142 for the flight and crew alone.