Taxpayers shelled out millions of dollars in 2013 when the golf-addicted President Obama took Air Force One to Florida on vacation and played a round of golf with Tiger Woods, according to a new government study.
From Feb. 15-18 in 2013, the president went on a four day trip that included an official speech in Chicago and some leisure time in Palm Beach, Florida.
According to a forthcoming report by the Government Accountability Office that was obtained early by The Daily Caller, the government spent a total of $3.6 million to fly, protect and support the president during this trip to Illinois and Florida.
The GAO report was requested by Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican senator from Wyoming. The letter was sent during the political debates of 2013 over the automatic spending cuts to government services, known as sequestration.
In November of 2013, Barrasso — who was the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure — asked the comptroller general of the United States to have the GAO “assess the costs to taxpayers for President Obama’s trip to Florida in February.”
“At a time when government agencies and programs were preparing to implement tough cost-saving measures in order to meet the budgetary constraints of sequestration,” Barrasso wrote, “President Obama chose to use taxpayer money for a weekend trip to play golf. I have heard from a number of concerned constituents in my state who believe the money used for this trip could have been spent in a manner that would have reduced the federal deficit or have helped reduce the impact of sequestration on the public.”
The new GAO report examines what the Department of Defense — which operates Air Force One — and the Department of Homeland Security — which runs the U.S. Secret Service — spent on the trip.
Of the $3.6 million spent, $2.8 million were incurred by the Defense Department while $770,000 was spent by the Department of Homeland Security.
The report said the figures include the costs of Air Force One, supporting aircraft and U.S. Coast Guard small boats. It also includes travel expenses for Defense and Homeland Security personnel.
It does not include “certain classified DOD costs” and the regular salaries of government civilian and military personnel that traveled with the president.
The report notes that the president always flies on military aircraft — regardless of whether it is for official business or not.
“According to White House officials, to be able to communicate instantly with the U.S. military, the President flies on military aircraft whenever he travels — whether for official, political, or other non-official reasons,” the GAO study notes.
For this trip, Obama flew from Joint Base Andrews on Feb. 15 and gave a speech in Chicago to discuss proposals made days earlier in his State of the Union address. Following the speech, he flew to Palm Beach and returned to Washington on Feb. 18.
According to the report, “GAO examined cost data from DOD and DHS on aircraft operating costs, per diem expenses, and other significant costs. Additionally, GAO interviewed knowledgeable officials from the White House, DOD, and DHS who were involved in supporting presidential travel.”
As the Associated Press reported at the time, “Once the sport’s dominant player before his career was sidetracked by scandal, Woods joined Obama at the Floridian, a secluded and exclusive yacht and golf club on Florida’s Treasure Coast where Obama is spending the long Presidents Day weekend. The two had met before, but Sunday was the first time they played together.”
“The White House,” the AP added, “which has promised to be the most open and transparent in history, has prohibited any media coverage of Obama’s golf outing.”