President Barack Obama appeared to spend $360,236 of taxpayer money on a campaign trip to North Carolina on Air Force One with Hillary Clinton, a Freedom of Information Act request by a watchdog group found.
Air Force One costs $180,118 per hour in flight, and the aircraft flew two hours round-trip to make the July 2016 trip to North Carolina, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command Headquarters said in its response to a FOIA request by the conservative group Judicial Watch.
The use of Air Force One for campaign travel is not a new practice, but it was an issue of contention on the campaign trail this summer after presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump complained about Obama’s use of the aircraft in support of presumptive Democratic nominee Clinton.
At the time, the White House said in a statement that the Democratic National Committee and other relevant political committees foot the bill for Obama to travel to political events on Air Force One, Bloomberg News reported.
However, the formula for how travel costs are divided is unclear, Bloomberg added.
As CNBC reported at the time, it’s common for presidents to use Air Force One to travel to campaign events themselves, but a president actually traveling with a non-incumbent candidate is new.
Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all used the jet to travel to non-incumbent campaign events, but none of them traveled with their chosen successor.
The two hours of Air Force One use are in addition to dozens of other fundraising and campaign trips over Obama’s eight years in office, Judicial Watch argued, “bringing the known total over the past eight years to $96,938,882.51.”
“The Obamas’ notorious abuse of presidential travel perks wasted military resources and stressed the Secret Service,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “Judicial Watch estimates that the final costs of Obama’s unnecessary vacation and political travel will well exceed $100 million.”