President Obama's decision to take his Earth Day speech attacking climate change "deniers" to Florida, home of two GOP presidential candidates, cost taxpayers $866,615.40 just for the flight of Air Force One.
Taxpayer watchdog Judicial Watch revealed Wednesday that the Air Force provided documents showing the flight expenses of flying the jumbo jet 4.2 hours to Miami. He was then helicoptered 20 minutes to the Florida Everglades for his speech.
Other costs, such as security, communications and staff were not provided, but would put the speech price at way over $1 million.
During his address, the president did not directly attack former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or current Sen. Marco Rubio, two presidential candidates, but he did slap those who question climate change and cited earlier efforts by Republican Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and George H.W. Bush to improve the environment.
"Climate change can no longer be denied," Obama said a tour of the Everglades. "It can't be edited out. It can't be omitted from the conversation. And action can no longer be delayed."
According to the New York Times, aides hoped the setting would put pressure on Bush and Rubio. The paper's reporters wrote, "White House officials believe that using the muggy backdrop of the Everglades to demand action will help put pressure on Mr. Bush, who is likely to run for president, and Mr. Rubio, who has declared his candidacy, to address the issue."
Judicial Watch told Secrets that the exact costs provided by the Air Force put the flight hour expenses at $206,377 per hour to operate.
"The irony of using Air Force One for an unnecessary jaunt to discuss global warming aside, these documents show that taxpayers are being gouged for President Obama's abuse of the perks of office," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for his continual savaging of political opponents," he added.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.