America, you know how to treat a president and his family.
With another Presidents' Day bachelor holiday planned by President Obama, this time golfing in California, and Aspen, Colo., resort reporters on the lookout for the annual first lady ski trip this weekend, the taxpayer's tab for the first family's vacations has topped $2.4 million.
But that's just the start. That total is just from the skimpy documents detailing travel and security expenses obtained by the public watchdog group Judicial Watch from a handful of first family vacations.
When all of the reporting of the first family’s 22 vacations so far to Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, Spain, Colorado, Florida, Africa and elsewhere is added up, the estimate reaches over $18 million when hotel and resort rent, security hotel and car rentals, and airfare are included.
Concerned about the trip expenses and the administration's lack of transparency on the trips, Judicial Watch has sought spending documents. They've had success on just eight trips and only received Air Force and Secret Service expense forms which total $2,417,595.47. Included is the $1 million tab for Michelle Obama's 2011 trip to Africa, her $476,585 2010 vacay in Spain, the first couple's 2009 New York City date night that cost $11,648 and the first lady's 2013 trip to Aspen for Presidents' Day costing $81,523.
Those expenses generally calculate onboard food, and security hotel and car rental charges. Sometimes actual receipts have been provided to Judicial Watch. For her Spain trip, for example, the Air Force spent over $1,300 on food, including potato chips, candy, and cookies. They also bought two magazines, Elle and Women's Day.
But that’s it. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Secrets, “The Obama administration has simply stopped voluntarily producing information about the costs of the travel. It is radio silence. They are in cover up mode.”
Multiple news organizations have also tallied the costs of the first family's Christmas vacations in Hawaii, $16 million; and summers in Martha’s Vineyard, $500,000.
The White House under no administration has released detailed vacation costs, though Secret Service and Air Force records have been subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, which is how Judicial Watch has received their figures.
“The Obamas are abusing the perks of public office,” said Fitton. “Taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for their luxury travel.”Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.