Michelle Obama’s $500,000 shopping trip: Huge taxpayer bill for First Lady’s Spanish beach getaway revealed
- New documents disclose $500,000 tab Michelle Obama left for taxpayers
- Voters sour on Obamas’ lifestyle that critics call ‘tone-deaf’ and ‘hypocritical’
- New video reveals First Lady’s ‘fantasy’ to sneak way from Secret Service
- Mrs Obama mulls political future and possibility of Presidential run
The First Lady’s whirlwind tour of Spain in 2010 better have been a once in a lifetime trip, because her getaway cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars.
The highly controversial and lavish trip drew ire at the time, but the White House assured the public that the Obamas picked up the tab on their own.
But new information fromJudicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates government corruption, detailed the extensive security costs to the United States Air Force and Secret Service.
The Obamas’ highly publicized and polarizing vacations may cost the First Family even more, as voters appear to be disheartened by their extravagance.
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Inquisition: New documents revealed that Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain in 2010 cost taxpayers $500,000
‘The American people can ill afford to keep sending the First Family on vacations around the globe,’ Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
‘There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips.’
In 2010, Mrs Obama visited the Spain’s picturesque coastal towns, shopped, toured and even had a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen.
Her every move was highly documented and scrutinized by the press, which called her trip ‘tone-deaf‘ during tough economic times.
‘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,’ Fitton said.
The New York Times previously reported that Mrs. Obama brought along her daughter Sasha, ‘two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members.’
Shopper’s Paradise: The five-day trip included loads of shopping and sight-seeing. In this photo, Michelle Obama, left, visits the Alhambra and the Palace of Charles the 5th
The five day trip cost at least $467,585, according to Judicial Watch.
The total cost of flying Michelle Obama from Camp Andrews to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was $199,323.75.
That tab is based on just 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.
The White House said that the First Lady would reimburse only the equivalent of first-class commercial tickets for herself and her daughter Sasha, since the rest of the seats were occupied by Secret Service.
Her friends flew on separate commercial flights, the New York Times reported.
Royal Excursion: While on the trip, the First Lady met with the King and Queen of Spain for a lunch date
The Gang’s All Here: Mrs Obama brought along her daughter Sasha, two good friends and four of their daughters, as well as a few aides and a couple of advance staff members
The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel where group’s lodging cost was $10,290.60 and car rental costs were $2,633.50.
In addition, their food cost was $876.30, which included an American indulgence of $57.68 for four bottles of maple syrup and a package of pancake mix.
Secret Service records, meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were $254,461.20.
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.
Though her trips may cost taxpayers money, they could also cost President Obama his job.
High Price: New polls conducted by Republican researchers reveal that the First Family’s extravagant lifestyle makes undecided voters sour
Top-tier Republican pollsters, organized by Resurgent Republic, traveled to 11 battleground states to host focus groups.
The spoke to independent and swing voters who were Obama supporters in 2008, but are now undecided.
‘They don’t like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself,’ pollster John McLaughlin said to the Washington Examiner.
The lesson from the sessions, McLaughlin said, is that the first family ‘is out of touch’ with working class voters.
And they well may be – the First Lady revealed today that one of her secret ‘fantasies’ is to sneak away from the Secret Service’s watchful eye, a move that would no doubt cost taxpayers a pretty penny.
‘It is hard to sneak around and do what you want,’ Michelle Obama said today at a ‘Take your child to work day’event.
‘I have done it a couple of times. But you know one fantasy I have, and the Secret Service they keep looking at me because they think I might actually do it, is to walk right out the front door and just keep walking.’
She also revealed her political future, or lack of one, depending on how you read her response.
When asked if she would ever go after her husband’s job, the First Lady responded with a resounding ‘Maybe.’
‘Being president is a really hard job and it’s an important job,’ Mrs Obama said.
‘I think one of the things you learn about yourself as you get older are what are your strengths and what are your interests. And for me it’s other stuff that is not being the president. So I probably won’t run. But that’s a great question.’
IS THE TAXPAYER FUNDING PRESIDENT’S RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN? FURY AS OBAMA USES $180,000-AN-HOUR AIR FORCE ONE TO FLY TO FUNDRAISERS
By Toby Harnden
Flight Plan: President Barack Obama disembarks from Marine One on the South Lawn. His use of official vehicles for fundraising trips has caused concern
President Barack Obama has already held more than twice as many re-election fundraising events than President George W. Bush did in his entire 2004 re-election campaign.
According to Mark Knoller of CBS News, unofficial keeper of presidential statistics, Obama has held 124 fundraisers – about one every three days – since he launched his re-election bid last April compared to the 57 Bush held to raise cash for his re-election bid eight years ago
Obama’s frenetic fundraising schedule had prompted the Republican National Committee (RNC) to lodge a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about misuse of taxpayer money.
The Obama campaign dismissed the complaint as a ‘stunt’ and the White House said that it would follow the same rules as previous administrations and refund the appropriate amounts.
According to the Pentagon, the Boeing 747 that normally serves as Air Force One costs $179,750 an hour to operate.
In the complaint, Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, wrote: ‘Throughout his administration, but particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as ‘official events,’ thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his re-election efforts.’
John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, today demanded that Barack Obama ‘pony up and reimburse the Treasury’ for what he said were are campaign trips to battleground states dressed up as presidential travel.
He accused the Obama campaign of manufacturing a phony fight about student loans and then using Air Force One to hold what amounted to re-election rallies in swing states.
‘Frankly, I think this is beneath the dignity of the White House … for the president to make a campaign issue about it and then travel to three battleground states,’ he said.
‘This one does not pass the straight-face test. You know it, and I know it. It’s time for the Obama campaign to pony up and reimburse the Treasury.’
He added that ‘the president keeps trying to invent these kind of fake fights because he doesn’t have a record’ and ‘the emperor wears no clothes’.
Priebus said that the Obama campaign ‘has been cheating the American taxpayer by using taxpayer dollars to fund their general election efforts’ and had ‘held more campaign events in three-and-a-half years than any other president did in their full term’.
‘It’s time for the Obama campaign to pony up and reimburse the Treasury.’
John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives
He pointed to Obama’s current trip to North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa, all key battleground states, to discuss extending lower interest rates on student loans as examples of this tax-payer funded campaign travel.
‘One might imagine that if this were genuinely a government event he might have stopped in a non-battleground state like Texas or Vermont,’ his complaint said.
Priebus told reporters: ‘This President and Air Force One seem to have a magic magnet that only seem to land in battleground states in this country.’
He added that a trip to Florida a fortnight ago, when an official speech was added to a day’s programme of fundraising, was suspect. ‘This speech was high on class warfare, slogans, and divisive campaign style rhetoric. It was low on substance that would benefit the populace at large.’