By Malia Zimmerman | Watchdog.org
HONOLULU — U.S. taxpayers spent nearly $16 million to fly the Obamas to, from and around Hawaii and Africa, Air Force records, obtained by Judicial Watch, show.
“The Obama family 2013-2014 vacation to Honolulu cost $210,877 per hour for travel alone; at 36.9 total hours, the cost to taxpayers for the vacation’s flight expense was $7,781,361.30,” Judicial Watch said in a statement, noting an increase of $3,695,006.10 from flight expenses for the Obamas’ 2012-13 Hawaii Christmas vacation.
Michelle Obama extended her Hawaiian vacation, traveling separately back to Washington after spending time with family friend Oprah Winfrey on Maui. President Obama said the trip to Maui was a gift for his wife in advance of her 50th birthday.
Judicial Watch also obtained the cost of the Obamas’ trip — June 27 to July 3 — to three countries in Africa — Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
Transportation costs for flights to, from and around Africa was $228,288 an hour for 35.5 hours; the flight expense alone was $8,104,224, according to Air Force records.
The total for the Africa and Honolulu vacations cost taxpayers some $15,885,585.30 for flight expenses alone, Judicial Watch said.
The Washington Post reported the total cost to taxpayers for the Africa trip was about $100 million.
Watchdog.org and Hawaii Reporter each year do a cost analysis of the first family’s two-week vacation in Hawaii. The Obamas have been making the trip since 2008.
The White House annually refuses to disclose the cost of several things, citing security, such as:
- An entire floor of an office building in Kailua on the canal during the president’s stay.
- Security upgrades, such as bulletproof glass and additional phone lines added to private homes; existing security systems are disabled.
- Rental cars and fuel for staff and security, as well as additional costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the president.
The U.S. Marine Corps provides the presidential helicopter, along with pilots and support crews for test flights, which travel on another C-17. That costs at least $258,000, not including per diem and hotel for the four- to six-member crew.
Judicial Watch in February said the Obamas incurred $1,164,268.60 in flight expenses for an August vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where the family spent eight days at the home of David Schulte, founder of private equity firm Chilmark Partners.
“The costs to taxpayers of President Obama’s travel, especially his luxury vacation travel, are beyond the pale,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “And the secrecy surrounding these costs shows that Obama’s vows of transparency are rubbish.”
Reach Malia Zimmerman at Malia@hawaiireporter.com