Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
The costs paid by taxpayers for Barack and Michelle Obama and their entourage when the launched a failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics in their hometown of Chicago totaled some half a million dollars, plus the significant costs of international flights, according to a new report.
The figures were compiled by Judicial Watch, the Washington-based group that investigates and fights government corruption.”
“Barack and Michelle Obama wasted taxpayer dollars on a junket that seemed designed for one purpose – to take care of their Chicago cronies who stood to gain financially from the Olympics racket,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“The fact that Valerie Jarrett needed an ‘ethics waiver’ to lead this failed bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago tells you almost all you need to know about the scandalous nature of this trip.”
The information was compiled from records from the Obama Department of Defense, the Obamas, representatives of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport and others.
Obama set up an entourage to travel to Copenhagen in 2009 to try to convince the International Olympic Committee to pick Chicago for the 2016 games. Dozens of participants, support staff and others were ferried overseas.
Among the expenses that were uncovered included $235,659 for the use of hotel space for seven “offices” plus transportation and communications, another $33,044 for one day in the hotel, $129,276 for travel vouchers and related expenses, and $69,196 for flight cots for media.
Not included are some of the largest expenses, which were not released by the government – the use of several Boeing 747s and additional Air Force cargo planes.
Obama had named one of his personal friends, Jarrett, to serve as his “Olympics Czar” – despite what Judicial Watch described as her personal and business ties to Chicago.
“Jarrett’s work on the Olympics bid would have violated Obama’s own executive order against engaging in lobbying activities prior to his administration. However, then-’Ethics Czar’ Norm Eisen granted Jarrett an ‘ethics waver’ from the president’s highly touted ethics pledge so Jarrett could run the push for the Chicago Olympics bid,” Judicial Watch reported. “The waiver exempted Jarrett from the restrictions of President Obama’s own ethics pledge, even though she had personally led the bid before entering the White House.”
The organization obtained the information about the trip through a Freedom of Information Act request, which generated a response from the DOD 26 months after it was submitted.
Requests submitted to Chicago for information about the bid costs did not generate a response.
Obama is not the only Washington insider to be found spending taxpayer money lavishly. WND has reported on the $101,000 that taxpayers spent for in-flight food and alcohol for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s travels in 2008-2009.
And a further followup report revealed that more taxpayer money – hundreds of thousands of dollars – were spent in the months before Pelosi handed the gavel over to Rep. John Boehner as Republicans took control of the House following the 2010 election.
Among the receipts: $130 from a Detroit store for popcorn, cheese puffs, Hershey’s milk chocolate kisses, peanuts, Snickers minis, Nilla wafers, ginger snaps, mixed nuts, dry roasted peanuts, M&M peanuts, Kraft caramels and crackers.
That order apparently was connected to a congressional delegation trip to Detroit that cost some $24,000 in air travel expenses plus another $10,000 in miscellaneous expenses.
However, the Obamas’ spending on trips and vacations has raised the most eyebrows in many quarters. A recently published report noted that the family vacation in Hawaii over Christmas 2011 cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Among some of the categories that made up the estimated more than $4.1 million for the family vacation were: $3.2 million in flight time to carry the Obamas back and forth, a Marine contingent for security at $258,000, $21,600 for each of seven houses rented for 18 days for security officers to be housed, another hotel bill for $72,000, overtime for local police of $250,000 and others.
An official in the White House confirmed to the Hawaii Reporter those costs are “in line” with other presidential vacations.