JANUARY 22, 2016
Barack Obama – $10 Million Travel Man
Imagine being able to jet off to golf weekend getaways on a whim. I don’t even golf but of course it would be nice to be able get out of dodge to avoid the nasty blizzard now arriving here in DC.
But it is good to be the king. Or president. Because Barack Obama jets off on Air Force One, without a seeming care in the world about the costs to taxapayers, for golf weekends on a regular basis.
We have just obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that the October 2015 Columbus Day getaway enjoyed by President Barack Obama and his family cost taxpayers $969,783.90 in flight expenses alone. The documents regarding the Obama travel expenses came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request first filed on October 13, 2015.
The new records obtained by our intrepid and insistent investigators show the Obama family’s October 11 flight from Los Angeles, where he had attended three high-dollar fundraisers, to San Diego, and then from San Diego back to Washington on October 12, required a total of 4.7 hours of flying time at $206,337 per hour. That brought the total flight cost to taxpayers to $969,783.90. The records do not include the flight time to travel from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles (through Oregon, Seattle, and San Francisco), nor the Secret Service costs or other expenses. But don’t worry, we have those numbers already on file. Previously released documents, show the flight time from Washington to Los Angeles to be five hours, which safely adds $1,031,685 and brings the known total to expense to $2,001,468.90.
According to press reports, Obama and his family spent their getaway weekend in San Diego at the luxurious Rancho Santa Fe resort community. With an estimated median income of $188, 859, Rancho Santa Fe is one of the highest income communities in the United States. According to the Rancho Santa Fe website, it boasts “one of the storied private golf courses in California,” with “one of the finest walkable designs in the world” where “you and your friends will cherish the memorable times.” Sure enough, President Obama reportedly spent several hours golfing.
The White House touted Obama’s trip to the West Coast as an opportunity for the president to push his gun control agenda in Eugene, Oregon, the site of the Umpqua Community College shooting the previous week. According to the White House schedule for Friday, October 9, however, Obama spent just two hours with the victims’ families before flying off to Seattle, Washington, for a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser. He then left Seattle to participate in a DNC fundraiser in San Francisco later that evening.
In San Francisco, Obama joined Kanye West for a high-dollar fundraiser at The Warfield Theater, which, according to its website, features “the hottest rock shows in the Bay Area.” There, he attacked the Republican Party for having “gone off the deep end.”
On Saturday, October 10, Obama extended his fundraising agenda with three additional high-dollar events, all in the Los Angeles area. According to Deadline.com, “In a whirlwind 6 1/2-hour visit to Los Angeles on Saturday, the fundraiser-in-chief will hit a trio of deep-pocket events…beginning with the home of the Star Wars director and wife Katie McGrath for a $33,400-per-person.”
The $2,001,468.90 Obama spent for his flights between DC and Los Angeles to vacation in San Diego brings his known total bill to the American taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel to $72,881,504.68. That comes to more than $10 million per year for each year he has been in office.
Political candidates, campaigns, and parties reimburse the federal government for only a small portion of the costs of presidential political travel. The most transparent administration in history keeps the formula for such cost-sharing secret.
The tens of millions in costs we know about is just the tip of the iceberg. The nearly $73 million cover Secret Service costs and one can’t imagine the costs to the Defense Department as it moves its command and control structure to support the Golfer-in-Chief.
And we should recall that the Secret Service agents who protect Barack Obama and his family aren’t superhuman. The constant presidential travel is a drag on the agency and a stress on the agents. A 2014 report by a special panel for the Department of Homeland Security confirms this, as it found that the Secret Service “is stretched to and, in many cases, beyond its limits.”
Barack Obama is now officially the 10-million-dollar man when it comes to wasteful presidential travel. It looks like that visit with grieving families was an excuse to get out to sunny California for some fundraising with celebrities such as Kanye West – and golfing.
Just to be clear, your JW is not concentrating solely on this president or one political party. Politicians abuse the perks of office all over Washington. I told you last week about the lawsuit we filed to find out about often-abuse official congressional delegation travel (CODELS), which often use Air Force luxury jets and support personnel, authorized by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate.
In the meantime, let’s work together to ensure that a year from now that the new president taking office is mindful of some of the markers on presidential travel abuse we have set down.