First Lady Michelle Obama’s whirlwind tour of Spain in 2010 better have been a once in a lifetime trip, because her getaway cost taxpayers nearly $500,000.
The highly controversial and lavish trip drew ire at the time, but the White House assured the public that the Obamas picked up the tab on their own.
However, new information from Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates government corruption, detailed the extensive security costs to the United States Air Force and Secret Service.
The Obamas’ highly publicized and polarizing vacations may cost even more to the First Family, as voters appear to be disheartened by their extravagance.
“The American people can ill afford to keep sending the First Family on vacations around the globe,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
“There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips.”
In 2010, Michelle Obama visited the Spain’s picturesque coastal towns, shopped, toured and even had a lunch date with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
Michelle Obama’s every move was highly documented and scrutinized by the press, which called her trip “tone-deaf” during tough economic times.
“It is hypocritical for President Obama to fire GSA officials for wasteful conference spending, while his family went on a luxury vacation in the Costa del Sol Spain that cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars,” Tom Fitton said.
The New York Times previously reported that Michelle Obama brought along her daughter Sasha, “two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members”.
The five day trip cost at least $467,585, according to Judicial Watch.
The total cost of flying Michelle Obama from Camp Andrews to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was $199,323.75.
That tab is based on just 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.
The White House said that the First Lady would reimburse only the equivalent of first-class commercial tickets for herself and her daughter Sasha, since the rest of the seats were occupied by Secret Service.
Michelle Obama’s friends flew on separate commercial flights, the New York Times reported.
The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel where group’s lodging cost was $10,290.60 and car rental costs were $2,633.50.
In addition, their food cost was $876.30, which included an American indulgence of $57.68 for four bottles of maple syrup and a package of pancake mix.
Secret Service records, meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were $254,461.20.
This total includes $26,670.61 for a chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol and $50,078.78 for a travel planning company SET P&V, S.L.
Though Michelle Obama’s trips may cost taxpayers money, they could also cost President Barack Obama his job.
Top-tier Republican pollsters, organized by Resurgent Republic, traveled to 11 battleground states to host focus groups.
The spoke to independent and swing voters who were Barack Obama supporters in 2008, but are now undecided.
“They don’t like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself,” pollster John McLaughlin said to the Washington Examiner.
The lesson from the sessions, John McLaughlin said, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.
And they well may be – the First Lady revealed yesterday that one of her secret “fantasies” is to sneak away from the Secret Service’s watchful eye, a move that would no doubt cost taxpayers a pretty penny.
“It is hard to sneak around and do what you want,” Michelle Obama said yesterday at a Take your child to work day event.
“I have done it a couple of times. But you know one fantasy I have, and the Secret Service they keep looking at me because they think I might actually do it, is to walk right out the front door and just keep walking.”
Michelle Obama also revealed her political future, or lack of one, depending on how you read her response.
When asked if she would ever go after her husband’s job, the First Lady responded with a resounding: “Maybe.”
“Being president is a really hard job and it’s an important job,” Michelle Obama said.
“I think one of the things you learn about yourself as you get older are what are your strengths and what are your interests. And for me it’s other stuff that is not being the president. So I probably won’t run. But that’s a great question.”