Yes, all presidents spend taxpayers’ money on personal travel and on efforts to raise funds for their own political party. But not every president runs on a platform that includes a pledge to change the way Washington works and, more specifically, to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.
Barack Obama did both, yet as CBS’s Mark Knoller — a supporter of the president — conceded in May 2012 that Obama flew in Air Force One 172 times in 2011, almost every other day:
White House officials have been telling reporters in recent days that the Democrat doesn’t intend to hang around the White House quite so much in 2012.They explain he wants to get out more around the country because, as everyone knows, that midterm election shellacking had nothing to do with his health care bill, over-spending or other policies, and everything to do with Obama’s not adequately explaining himself to his countrymen and women.
Add to that a report out today from watchdog group Judicial Watch that tallies the cost of travel expenses, including a getaway over the Columbus Day weekend in 2015 that cost taxpayers $969,783.90 in flight expenses alone!
According to the newly released records obtained by Judicial Watch, 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. 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, Ore, 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, Wash., 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 D.C. and Los Angeles to vacation in San Diego brings his known total expense 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 Obama White House keeps the formula for such cost-sharing secret.
A 2014 report by a special panel for the Department of Homeland Security found that the Secret Service “is stretched to and, in many cases, beyond its limits.”
“Barack Obama is now the 10-million-dollar man when it comes to wasteful presidential travel,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “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.”