Membership has its privileges. And when you’re a member of the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do club, those privileges include beyond-first-class travel and other luxuries the average sap can’t even imagine, let alone dream of.
The watchdog group Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that Michelle Obama’s weekend trip to Aspen in February cost American taxpayers $57,068.80 in travel expenses alone for the 7.4-hour round-trip flight. While her hubby flew to California to play golf, speak at a cyber-security summit, and headline a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, the First Lady and her daughters spent Valentine’s Day weekend skiing in Aspen, returning to the White House on February 16.
Judicial Watch obtained the Air Force records in response to a February 18, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the following:
- Any and all records concerning mission taskings relevant to First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to Aspen, Colorado.
- Any and all records concerning transportation costs.
- Any and all passenger manifests for the trip.
According to the newly released records, the transportation costs for the four-day trip to Aspen were based on a flight cost of $7,712 an hour for the First Lady, her daughters, and support personnel in the Gulfstream aircraft. Not included were the attendant costs for U.S. Secret Service personnel, accommodations, meals, rental cars, lift tickets for skiing at Buttermilk, and related expenses. The $57,068.80 tab Mrs. Obama her daughters ran up in travel expenses alone for their weekend trip is more than 14 times what the average American of four spends for an entire week-long vacation.
The ski trip was apparently intended to be low-key, and it may have stayed under the radar had it not been for the Obama’s motorcade having been forced to stop for a two-car collision ahead of them, which closed the road for 40 minutes. Though the Obamas had been allowed to “sneak through while they waited on tow trucks,” according to Aspen Police Chief Brian Olsen, the presence of the First Lady was noticed. The Obama family reportedly stayed at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, a Chicago couple who have been major campaign contributors to President Obama throughout his political career.
Barack and Michelle Obama and other members of their family have traveled more during his presidency than any other first couple, including extensive and costly trips to Spain, Africa, South America, and China, accompanied by staff and often by friends.
Including the Aspen trip, government records indicate that the beyond-first-class travel of the Obamas and Vice President Joe Biden have cost the American people well over $56 million.
Said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
The Obamas abuse taxpayers with unnecessarily luxurious vacations and travel. How many times did the Obama family travel to Aspen prior to the presidency? Misusing the perks of presidency to travel to luxury hot-spots is an abuse that must end. If Congress is looking to save tax dollars, they might consider trimming the platinum travel budgets of this and future presidents.