Bob Unruh © 2011 WND
Watch wants to know what taxpayers are spending for Michelle Obama's vacations.
much did the American people spend to send the First Lady on a family outing in
Africa? That's what we want to know," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
"On the surface, the trip seems to have been totally unnecessary and was as much
an excuse for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a mission intended
to advance the nation's business in Africa."
The organization requested information in June regarding the expenses for the
trip. The request included records for the mission taskings for the June 21-27
trip to South Africa and Botswana, the transportation costs and all passenger
manifests for the trip.
The government had until Aug. 3 to respond, but did not, so Judicial Watch now
has followed up with a lawsuit.
"The professed purpose of Mrs. Obama's trip was to encourage young people living
in South Africa and Botswana to get involved in national affairs," the Judicial
Watch report said. "The First Lady's remarks focused on education, health and
"However, accompanied by her daughters Malia and Sasha, her mother, Marian Robinson,
and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, the trip also included such
tourist events as visits to historical landmarks and museums as well as a visit
with Nelson Mandela," the Judicial Watch report said.
"The trip ended with a private family safari at a South African game reserve before
the group returned to Washington on June 27," Judicial Watch said.
The organization noted that the White House Dossier, a blog by White House reporter
Keith Koffer, said the cost to taxpayers for a C-32 aircraft for the trip alone
This cost, JW reported, was based on an estimated charge of $12,723 an hour, which
is what the Department of Defense charges other federal agencies to use that airplane.
If a military cargo plane was included - which is typical for Michelle Obama's
trips - the transportation alone could have cost another $200,000.
Additionally, there would be costs for Secret Service protection, the care and
feeding of numerous staff members, pre-trip staff work and others categories.
Watch reported earlier that a "date night" for the Obamas - for a New York dinner
and Broadway show - cost taxpayers more than $11,000 in Secret Service expenses
The organization said it is investigating such costs
"in the face of a ballooning federal debt and a sinking economy."
The announcement about the court case came just a day after The Daily Mail
in the United Kingdom touted 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 is believed to have taken 42 days of vacation in
the last year, including a respite in Spain that cost $375,000 and a $2,000-a-night
ski trip to Vail, Colo.
The family currently is on another vacation, at Blue Heron Farm on Martha's Vineyard,
where the rental fees are estimated at $50,000 a week.
The paper reported the situation was aggravated because the Obamas took separate
airplanes to the Massachusetts retreat - even though they traveled the same day.
the report cited figures from a Hawaii Reporter investigation into the Obamas'
trip to Hawaii last winter, where the costs were $63,000 to bring Michelle Obama
to town ahead of the president, $38,000 for a beach property rental, $134,000
for staff members to stay in a nearby hotel and $251,000 in police overtime.
Obama and ground Michelle quickly. We can't afford this profligate lifestyle any