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Thursday, April 10, 2014

$7.9m Obama Ireland trip included $251,161 for Michelle Obama's Dublin 'sightseeing' -- By Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner

Michelle Obama at the DNC. Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.The White House spent $7.9 million flying the first family to the 2013 G-8 summit in northern Ireland, a venture that included a sightseeing tour of Dublin by first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters that cost $251,161, according to new documents.

Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha attended a youth performance of the Irish musical Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre on a side trip to Dublin last year during the G8 summit. AP PhotoThe first lady's entourage spent $125,859 just for hotel rooms, including the spacious Princess Grace Suite at the five-star Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. Department of Homeland Security documents provided to taxpayer watchdog Judicial Watch also revealed a $114,721 tab for the first lady's fleet of cars and a $3,370 charge for a copier.

The cache of expenses is the latest from Judicial Watch which has spent years charting the costs of presidential trips. As before, it took a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to shake the documents out of Homeland Security and the Air Force.

The trip to Ireland was one of several for the Obama's last year and was the first half of a longer trip that also included a stop in Germany. The G8 took place in Belfast last year, and the other presidential stop was in Berlin.

The Air Force said that the air costs alone were about $7.6 million. The June 17-19 trip totaled 33.6 hours at $228,288 an hour, which comes to a flight expense alone of $7,670,476.80.

The first lady’s side trip cost $251,161.86 for “security and/or other services,” according to the DHS documents provided to Judicial Watch. That included $55,004.85 at the Shelbourne Hotel and $70,855.44 at the Westbury Hotel. Vehicle rental charges were $114,721.

After an event with the president on June 17, Mrs. Obama and her daughters flew to Dublin, where she planned to explore her husband’s Irish family roots and attend a performance of Riverdance.

The Washington Times reported that the first lady’s hotel room, the Grace Kelly Suite, cost $3,300 a night. It measures 1,530 square feet and includes a dining area.

Secret Service documents provided to Judicial Watch said that members of Mrs. Obama’s entourage also rented rooms at Dublin’s Westbury Hotel. Between news reports and the new documents, the two-day sightseeing trip cost an estimated $5 million, said Judicial Watch.

“It is clear that the Obamas abused the perk of the president’s official trip to the G-8 summit for a luxury European vacation at taxpayer expense,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And it is shameful that it took a federal lawsuit to obtain this information. Transparency goes by the wayside for the Obamas when it comes to covering up their abuse of taxpayer resources.”

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