The costs of Obama’s luxury travel keep on adding up for overburdened taxpayers. We have obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service revealing that its travel expenses for the First Family’s 2015 Hawaiian vacation cost taxpayers $1.2 million, which bring the total cost of the vacation trip to at least $4.8 million.
This was the Obamas’ eighth Hawaiian family vacation. The trip has become an annual event for the Obamas. To date, Obama’s and his family’s travel expenses total at least $85,029,819.
The records obtained by Judicial Watch for Obama’s Secret Service travel to Hawaii reveal the following expenses totaling $1,234,316.67:
- Hotel and lodging costs totaled $1,000,458.63
- The Secret Service spent $165,893.88 on car rentals.
- Air and rail expenses totaled $67,964.16.
Although the vacation officially lasted from December 18, 2015, to January 3, 2016, the Secret Service rented several Kailua homes for 19 nights, starting from December 16. The total for the rentals, located near the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay was $245,993.12.
According to bills obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Secret Service also paid for rooms at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and Golf Club. The Secret Service also reserved rooms at the Moana Surfrider resort on Waikiki Beach, and the Ala Moana Hotel, which cost a total of $40,249.48 and $671,895.99, respectively.
The Secret Service rented cars from Avis, Alamo, and Hertz – 103 cars for the two-week vacation, totaling $165,893.88 in taxpayer money.
Reportedly, the Obamas stayed at the Hale Reena Estate, which “rents for anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 a night, depending on the season.”
According to other news sources, the Obamas dined out frequently (and were guarded) at Hawaii’s finest restaurants:
- On Sunday, December 20, the Obamas had dinner at Morimoto, a celebrity chef-owned Asian-fusion restaurant,
- On Christmas Eve, they dined at MW Restaurant in Honolulu,
- On December 27, the first family took their dinner at “one of Hawaii’s finest restaurants,” Hoku’s at the Kahala Hotel and Resort,
- The next day, the Obamas dined at Alan Wong’s with friends,
- And on New Year’s Day, the Obamas dined at Halekulani, billed as one of the “top restaurants on Oahu.”
The president played seven rounds of golf, went hiking and snorkeling.
We filed a FOIA request for these documents in January 2016. The records were released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed on May 6, 2016, (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)). The lawsuit was filed after the Secret Service ignored a series of separate FOIA requests for costs associated with the president’s travel.
The Secret Service and the Air Force are being abused by unnecessary travel. “Unnecessary presidential travel for fundraising and luxury vacations on the taxpayers’ dime would be a good target for reform for the incoming Trump administration.
Let’s add that to the agenda for the first 100 days. To that end, it was good to see President-elect Trump questioning the multi-billion dollar costs of the planned replacements for the current planes used as Air Force One.
Is this it for Obama travel? Nope. According to the White House, President Obama will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 27, 2016.
Tom Fitton is the President of Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. Founded in 1994, Judicial Watch seeks to ensure government and judicial officials act ethically and do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American public.