(CNSNews.com) – When President Barack Obama attended the G-8 summit in Ireland last June 17-18, first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, went on the trip but made sightseeing visits in Dublin, attended a production of Riverdance, and toured a national park, activities that cost U.S. taxpayers $251,161.86, according to Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group.
A large portion of that expense, $55,004.85, was for 30 rooms at the Shelbourne Dublin hotel, which included the $3,300-per-night Princess Grace Suite, where the first lady stayed. An additional $70,855.44 was for hotel rooms at the Westbury Hotel in Dublin.
The entire cost for Michelle Obama and her daughters, including flight and security expenses, is estimated at around $5 million, said Judicial Watch, while the total costs that include the president’s official meeting, were $7,921,636.66.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on Jan. 13, 2014 to obtain the travel and expense records. Those documents, from the Department of the Air Force and the Department of Homeland Security, show that the total flights to, from, and around Ireland for the June 17-19, 2013 trip totaled 33.6 hours at $228,288 an hour, which equals a flight expense of $7,670,476,80. (See Michelle-Ireland-Travel1.pdf)
The total cost for “security and/or other services” for the Dublin side-trips by the first lady and her entourage were $251,161.86. In addition to the hotel charges mentioned, there were vehicle rental charges of $114,721. (However, costs for a separate Air Force jet, apparently Air Force Two, dispatched to accommodate Mrs. Obama’s travel in Ireland, were not included in the documents obtained by Judicial Watch.)
The White House claimed that the first lady’s excursions in Dublin were for diplomatic purposes, according to Judicial Watch. On the itinerary for June 17, Mrs. Obama and her daughters visited Trinity College Dublin where they looked at archival documents about the Obamas’ Irish ancestry. The first lady also met with staff and families of the U.S. Embassy in Dublin.
In addition, Michelle Obama and her daughters attended a performance of Riverdance, had a pub lunch with rock star Bono on June 18, and received a guided tour of the Wicklow Mountains national forest.