Just exactly what did taxpayers spend to send Michelle Obama on vacation to Spain in 2010?
That’s the question that is at the heart of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington against the United States Air Force.
The action has been brought by Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption.
The legal action was launched after a Freedom of Information Act request was filed for the answer and the government did not respond.
The action seeks to find out what the costs for the trip and whether there was “any indication of official business conducted by Mrs. Obama while she was in the country.”
“That this lavish trip may be a source of embarrassment for the Obamas is not a sufficient reason to stonewall the release of records. Evidently, American taxpayers were stuck with a sizable bill so Mrs. Obama could tour around Spain with her family and friends. This administration, as a supposed steward of taxpayer dollars, has an obligation to disclose the full costs of the Obama family’s luxury trip,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
The case seeks all records about “mission taskings” for the trip in August 2010, records regarding transportation costs and passenger manifests.
Judicial Watch said the Air Force acknowledged that it had received the request for information Aug. 30, 2011. It was required by law to respond by Oct. 13.
However, at the time of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the Air Force had neither released responsive documents nor indicated why the documents should be withheld. The Air Force has also failed to indicate when a response is forthcoming, the JW report said.
It was back in August 2010 when Michelle Obama and one of her daughters left on what the press reported as a “whirlwind tour of Spain.” The trip included visits to coastal towns, a lunch date and shopping.
The Obamas reportedly stayed at the Luxury Hotel Villa Padierna, and the New York Times indicated that Michelle Obama was accompanied by “two friends and four of their daughters.”
The luxury vacation paid for by taxpayers came just as the U.S. was reporting the loss of 131,000 jobs.
The White House previously claimed the Obamas “paid their own way” but taxpayers still remained responsible for other costs such as security.
The organization previously obtained records for a trip by Michelle Obama, her family and staff to South Africa and Botswana in June 2011. Judicial Watch revealed it cost $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. Other expenses would have included transportation and security.
On the trip to South Africa, the president’s two daughters were listed as “Senior Staff” on the manifest.
Fitton said the trip was a waste of money for taxpayers.
“This trip was as much an opportunity for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a trip to conduct government business,” said Fitton. “This junket wasted tax dollars and the resources of our overextended military.
“No wonder we had to sue to pry loose this information.”
The organization previously uncovered documentation revealing that a “date night” for Barack and Michelle Obama in 2009 cost taxpayers more than $11,000 in Secret Service costs alone.
The organization also earlier documented what appears to many to be the extravagant spending by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Records showed Pelosi cost taxpayers $101,000 for in-flight food and alcohol over a period in 2008 and 2009. At one point she instructed the Air Force to provide chocolate-covered strawberries for a snack, since it was her birthday.
“Dark chocolate preferred” was the order.
The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom has highlighted the $10 million in public money Michelle Obama has spent on her “vacations.”
“Branding her ‘disgusting’ and ‘a vacation junkie,’ [reports] say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol,” the London paper said.
The report said Michelle Obama also took vacations to Vail, Colo., Martha’s Vineyard and other places.