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Obama vacation to Hawaii, Africa cost taxpayers nearly $16 million

By   /   March 27, 2014  /   No Comments

WE’RE HERE TO HELP: President Barack Obama arrived with family in Honolulu, for the start of their holiday vacation, Dec. 22.

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.
AP file photo

IT’S HER BIRTHDAY: First lady Michelle Obama stayed behind in Hawaii to party with the likes of Oprah Winfrey for the first lady’s 50th birthday.

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


“Fearless, fair, intrepid, gets to the truth.” These are words used to describe news reporting by Malia Zimmerman and her small reporting staff at the investigative news organization she co-founded in Honolulu 12 years ago, Hawaii Reporter. Besides publishing daily news reports online at Watchdog.org and HawaiiReporter.com/, Malia hosts a weekly half hour television show, News Behind the News, which features Hawaii congress members, governors, and other local leaders, and she reports daily for KHVH News Radio 830 AM, a local Clear Channel station. She also hosts a monthly inspirational television magazine show on the local CBS and NBC affiliates called You've Got the Power. Malia produced a special investigative report for ABC 20/20 and has been interviewed on that show. Malia also has been a freelancer for People magazine, Inside Edition, Fox News and other national publications including the Wall Street Journal. Malia and Hawaii Reporter have been featured in numerous media outlets around the world including ABC 20/20, Bangkok Post, Business Week, Drudge Report, Forbes.com, Fox News, Radio Australia, United Press International, Wall Street Journal and Washington Times foreign bureau. Malia and the reporters who worked under her have won numerous awards for their investigative reporting including the highest award presented by the Society of Professional Journalists for public service reporting in 2012 as well as investigative reporting in 2012.