For the last week and a half, President Barack Obama has been in Hawaii celebrating Christmas with his family, playing golf with friends and eating shaved ice on family outings.
It might take a couple of years before taxpayers know the precise cost of this year’s Christmas vacation, but if it’s similar to previous years, such as 2013, it will cost more than $8 million.
While all private vacations are paid for in part out of the first family’s own money, taxpayers cover the bulk of the flight cost and all of the cost for Secret Service detail. The most recent data shows that the 2013 Christmas vacation by the Obama family in Hawaii cost taxpayers $8.09 million.
Almost two years after a records request, the Secret Service on Monday provided conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch information showing the cost of security for the 17-day trip in December 2013 lasting into January 2014 cost $316,698.
In March 2014, the Department of Air Force released to Judicial Watch that the first family incurred $7.78 million. That’s was 36.9 hours at $210,877 per hour.
“The $317,000 in Secret Service expenses are only the tip of the iceberg for the true cost of Obama’s 2013 vacation in Hawaii, which has now skyrocketed to $8,098,060,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “It is nice to know that Obama’s ‘tradition’ of Christmas vacations in Hawaii comes courtesy of overburdened taxpayers.”
Judicial Watch filed the Freedom of Information Act request on Jan. 6, 2014, and received the documents on Dec. 28. The information was heavily redacted, but shows $91,751.78 in car rental expenses was paid while $224,974.05 in accommodation expenses was paid to Cabana Girl, LLC and Paradise Luxury Rentals.
“It seems our lawsuits finally got the attention of the Secret Service,” Fitton said. “It is easy to see why the Secret Service, reeling from its own scandals, covered up these outrageous expense numbers for just one of Obama’s luxury Christmas vacation.”
The known total expense to taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel is now $70.8 million, according to Judicial Watch.
White House rules for vacations, or unofficial travel such as political travel, requires reimbursing the government the equivalent to the cost of what a first class commercial flight would have been. Such a reimbursement would amount to only a fraction of the total cost of most presidential travel because it does not include the cost of Secret Service protection and while a commercial airline ticket is significantly less than the cost of operating a military passenger jet.