Commentary

Obama’s Wasteful Climate Conference Trip Cost Taxpayers $4,165,068.40

By Tom Fitton | August 1, 2016 | 4:50pm EDT
President Barack Obama walks down the stairs of Air Force One upon his arrival at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Friday, March 11, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)

It takes a lot of taxpayer cash and jet exhaust to fly a president to a “climate change” meeting in Paris.

We have obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of the Air Force detailing the costs of Obama’s trip to attend the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Secret Service charges for Obama and his staff to attend the Conference cost taxpayers $1,324,171.60. Flight expenses cost $2,840,896.80, bringing the total expenditure for the conference to at least $4,165,068.40. To date, Obama’s known travel expenses total $83,795,502.33.

Barack Obama’s appointees didn’t volunteer this information. We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for these documents on January 6, 2016.  Our request wasn’t answered, so we had to sue this past May (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)).  Only then did we get the documents.

Here are the Secret Service expenses for Obama’s ideological Paris junket:

  • $82,991.60 for air and rail travel.
  • $706,065 for Parisian hotels.
  • $531,598 for rental vehicles.
  • $10,820 in overtime pay.
  • Cell phone rentals were $2,562.
  • Cell phone usage cost of $679.
  • A copier rental for $652.
  • $624 in “miscellaneous” expenses.

The Secret Service detail stayed in a number of Parisian hotels. The most money was spent at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand, a historic hotel built in 1862 that is called a “luxury” hotel that “defines historic grandeur,” according to its website. Accommodations were also booked at the Hilton Astor, Marriott Ambassador, Marriott Rive Gauche, and Mercure Tour Eiffel.

According to Air Force documents, at least two planes were used for the trip to Paris, Air Force One and a C-32A (which is generally used by either the secretary of state or the first lady):

  • Air Force One travelled a total of 14.4 hours @ $180,118 per hour for a total of $2,593,699.20.
  • The C-32A travelled 15.6 hours @ $15,846 per hour for a total of $247,197.60.

Other expenses for additional cabinet members’ travel and catering, Secret Service meals, meeting rooms, etc. are not included in these totals.

The controversial Paris Climate Conference, also known as COP21, lasted from November 30, 2015, to December 12, 2015. Travel to the conference reportedly burned 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, seemingly defeating the purpose of the meeting of world leaders. Critics also contend President Obama’s executive action implementing the Paris Climate Agreement circumvents the constitutional requirement that treaties become law only after ratification by the U.S. Senate.

This junket is another example of wasteful and unnecessary presidential travel that abuses the taxpayers, the military, and the U.S. Secret Service. It’s pure folly and we should demand that the next president (and Congress) put an end to it.

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.

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