Logo

Michelle Obama Sticks Taxpayers for 500K Vacation

Written by Tom Fitton

Share

Following on the heels of last month’s closely watched Supreme Court oral arguments over Obamacare, yet another high-stakes Supreme Court battle took place this week over Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law SB 1070. And my colleagues and I were there with the bill’s author, Russell Pearce, to personally observe the hearings.

As you may recall, JW client and former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce was the author and driving force behind SB 1070. Unfortunately, key components of the law largely have been put on hold by the lower courts thanks to a lawsuit filed by the Obama Justice Department, prompting this Supreme Court showdown. 

(JW filed two separate amicus curiae briefs with the Supreme Court in support of SB 1070, one on behalf of former State Senator Pearce and one on behalf of State Legislators for Legal Immigration.)

It is tricky to guess how the Supreme Court Justices will rule by analyzing their line of questioning. But I think it’s fair to say that most court observers and press outlets saw very troubling signs during oral arguments for the Obama administration, particularly its argument that SB 1070 conflicts with the federal government’s role in setting illegal immigration policy.

Politico reported that it "seemed likely" to uphold one of the most important stipulations in the law, which requires local police officers to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally. The Associated Press went so far as to say that the oral arguments "strongly suggested" the High Court would side with the State of Arizona on this issue.

And then there was this from The Washington Times:

Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.   The court was hearing arguments on Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, which requires police to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, and would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs. The Obama administration has sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy, but justices on both sides of the aisle struggled to understand that argument.

Indeed, Obama Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli took fire from both sides of the Court.

In response to the Obama administration’s argument that SB 1070 encroached upon the federal government’s power to regulate immigration, liberal Obama appointee Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, "I’m terribly confused by your answer."

"You can see it’s not selling well," she said.

Justice Scalia certainly wasn’t buying it. He asked Verrilli: "What does sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?"

(The obvious answer: Absolutely nothing.)

It looks to me as though two of the Supreme Court’s liberals, Justices Sotomayor and Breyer, may even turn back the Obama challenge to Arizona’s law. And I can tell you that Russell Pearce was thrilled with how well the argument went.

One argument Verrilli didn’t have the nerve to make? Racial profiling. "No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling, does it?" Chief Justice Roberts asked Verrilli, who replied, "That’s correct." Of course this runs counter to arguments made by the left, including Verilli’s boss, Attorney General Eric Holder. As noted by National Review, "Attorney General Eric Holder sternly warned the nation on Meet the Press that the law ‘has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.’" But the Obama administration left it to illegal alien advocates protesting in front of the Supreme Court to play the race card.

You can review the transcript of the hearing here.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the SB 1070 challenge sometime in June, and it will most certainly have ripple effects across the country, especially in states such as Alabama, Utah, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina, which have passed similar laws.

But it all started in Arizona.

The day before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over SB 1070, its author and architect Russell Pearce appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security to defend the law he crafted.  He was the sole witness to defend the law. No Republicans bothered to show up to help Russell (not that he needed it).  

Here are some excerpts from Senator Pearce’s testimony which you can read in full here:

*    [T]he illegal alien problem is a critical issue, not only in Arizona, but across the country. The adverse effects of illegal immigration ripple throughout our society. In addressing this problem, we must begin by remembering that we are a nation of laws. We must have the courage – the fortitude – to enforce, with compassion but without apology, those laws that protect the integrity of our borders and the rights of our citizens from those who break our laws. SB 1070, in full accordance with federal law, removes the political handcuffs from state and local law enforcement.   *    The invasion of illegal aliens we face today – convicted felons, drug cartels, gang members, human traffickers and even terrorists – pose one of the greatest threats to our nation in terms of political, economic and national security. *    Yet, instead of enforcing the law, the Obama administration does the opposite, by encouraging further law breaking. Under federal law "Sanctuary Policies" plainly are illegal. But the Obama administration does not sue those cities that are openly in violation of federal law for having these illegal sanctuary policies. Instead, it chooses to sue Arizona for enforcing the law, protecting our citizens, protecting jobs for lawful residents, and protecting taxpayers and the citizens of this Republic in attempting to secure our borders.

(In a shameless bit of grandstanding, the committee’s chairman, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, announced during the hearing that if the Supreme Court affirms SB 1070, he would introduce a law to effectively overturn the decision.  You can view the hearing via C-SPAN here.)

I’d like to add one more personal note on what an honor it is to work with Russell Pearce. He is a patriot who has suffered the slings and arrows of the Obama gang, the media, and leftist activists nationally and in Arizona. So what a nice vindication for Russell to see the Obama administration’s legal action getting shellacked before the Supreme Court!

Hopefully the Supreme Court ruling in June will allow the SB 1070 provisions to go into effect. (The law isalready working wonders even though it is not in full force. While the Department of Homeland Security reported that the total illegal immigration population is down 1% nationally, in Arizona that number shot down 23%! Imagine what will happen when the other components are enforced.) 

Justice Kagan recused herself from this case (after curiously remaining on the bench for the Obamacare lawsuit), so SB 1070 needs a 5-3 vote to prevail. A deadlock leaves the appellate court ruling in place.

Make no mistake, the Obama gang is nervous, hence Schumer’s preemptive promise to try to overturn SB 1070. They don’t want the Supreme Court to throw a monkey wrench into their scheme to have as many illegal aliens as possible vote in November. Speaking of the Obama campaign’s scheme to steal the elections…

JW, True the Vote Continue Push for Election Integrity

This weekend I will be speaking at a very important event taking place in Houston, Texas. Our client, True the Vote, is hosting a sold-out national summit on April 27-28 to focus attention on election fraud. I am honored to join a great panel of experts, including James O’Keefe, the undercover reporter who was recently offered Attorney General Eric Holder’s primary ballot at a polling station in Washington, DC. (You can see the video for yourself here.) 

My talk will focus upon the Obama gang’s scheme to steal the elections and, just as importantly upon a strategy to stop election fraud. 

As you know, Judicial Watch’s 2012 Election Integrity Project has many components. But one of our most critical areas of focus is voter registration rolls.

Judicial Watch investigators uncovered a cozy partnership between the Obama Justice Department, the Obama White House and the corrupt ACORN spin-off Project Vote to use the National Voter Registration Act to force states to register more voters on public assistance while ignoring a stipulation in the law to ensure that voter rolls are clean.

Actually, it’s much worse than that. The Obama Justice Department is opposing in court voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina that seek to make sure all voters are legitimate. 

Our team also analyzed voter registration data to determine which states have the dirtiest voter registration lists. According to this investigation, here are some of the worst offenders: Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, California, and Colorado.

(JW already knew about related issues in Colorado. A previous JW investigation found that the percentage of fraudulent voter registration forms was four times the national average in Colorado after Project Vote forced a change in policy to drive up registration numbers for welfare recipients.)

But Judicial Watch did more than just investigate. We took action.

Judicial Watch has put election officials on notice in these states that if they fail to clean up voter rolls in accordance with the law, Judicial Watch is prepared to file lawsuits to force them to do it.  

There is no question that lawsuits are going to be necessary. But it is also true that sometimes the threat of a lawsuit can get action. Take West Virginia as an example.

As noted by the West Virginia Lincoln Journal: "The Lincoln County Commission last week took steps in response to the threat of a lawsuit from the Washington D.C.-based organization Judicial Watch, regarding voter rolls in Lincoln County. Meeting last Thursday, March 15, 2012, the commissioners adopted a resolution supporting the county clerk’s efforts to resolve the situation."

So our campaign is already paying dividends. And this is good news because the Obama campaign is scrapping for every single vote, legal or illegal.

In fact, First Lady Michelle Obama was at a campaign stop in Iowa recently ratcheting up the rhetoric on the importance of last minute voter registration drives.  Per ABC News:  

Seeking to build a sense of urgency for November, First Lady Michelle Obama told a group of 400 campaign supporters in Iowa today that the election could come down to only a "few thousand folks."   "I just want you to remember that in the end, this all could come down to those last few thousand people that we register to vote. It could all come down to those few thousand folks we need to help to get to the polls in November," the first lady told the crowd of volunteers at a community center in Windsor Heights, a Des Moines suburb.

The evidence shows that Obama administration appointees, led by Eric Holder, charged with enforcing our election integrity laws do not care whether these last minute "registered voters" are legitimate. They apparently believe those most likely to cast an illegal vote will cast it for the president. We don’t support or endorse candidates. We just want to make sure the 2012 election is free, fair, and clean.

Michelle Obama’s Sticks Taxpayers with $467,585 Tab for Vacation to Spain

250px-Michelle_Obama_official_portrait_headshotIt took a couple of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and a lawsuit, but Judicial Watch finally obtained records from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing costs associated with Michelle Obama’s controversial August 2010 vacation to Spain.

And how much did you and I have to pay so Mrs. Obama and her family and friends could enjoy a luxury vacation? According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the records indicate a total combined cost of at least $467,585.

As I say, we obtained the Secret Service records pursuant to an August 2010 Freedom of Information Act request (although the agency notified Judicial Watch that it withheld 78 pages of responsive records in their entirety). We were forced to file a lawsuit on March 5, 2012 to force the release of the U.S. Air Force records.

The following are highlights from the U.S. Air Force records, which indicate a total cost of $213,124.15:

*    According to U.S. Department of Defense’s published hourly rates, the total cost of flying Michelle Obama and her guests from Andrews Air Force Base to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was $199,323.75. This is based on approximately 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.   *    The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel. Lodging cost was $10,290.60 and car rental cost was $2,633.50. Food cost was $876.30, including $57.68 for four bottles of maple syrup and a package of pancake mix.

The U.S. Air Force concealed the number of civilian passengers who accompanied Mrs. Obama on the five-day trip, citing an exemption to FOIA law. However, the The New York Times previously reported that Mrs. Obama brought along one of her daughters and "two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members."

Secret Service records, meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were $254,461.20. This total includes $26,670.61 for a chauffeured tour of Costa del Sol and $50,078.78 for a travel planning company SET P&V, S.L. (George Soros is 50% owner of the travel company, by the way.) Taxpayers also paid the bill for separate lodging for a dog and its handler.

In August 2010, the press described Mrs. Obama’s trip as a "whirlwind tour of Spain." It included visits to the coastal towns, shopping and a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen. While the White House claims the Obamas "paid their own way" for the vacation, the records detail some of the required security and other costs to taxpayers for the private trip.  

This is not the first time either! You may recall that JW obtained documents detailing costs for a June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by Michelle Obama, her family and her staff to South Africa and Botswana. Judicial Watch received travel expense records and passenger manifests for the Africa trip that described costs of $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. Other expenses, such as off-flight food, transportation, security, etc. were not included.

It should be obvious to the First Family by now. The American people can ill afford to keep sending them on vacations around the globe. There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips. 

It is hypocritical for President Obama to fire GSA officials for wasteful conference spending, while his family went on a luxury vacation in the Costa del Sol Spain that cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars. No wonder it took two years and a lawsuit to get these documents out of the Obama administration.

This Judicial Watch exposé, thanks to the Drudge Report, has gone viral around the world.  Now that’s accountability! The lawyers and investigators at Judicial Watch are persistent and get results. Cheers to them and thanks to all of you who make this great work possible!

Until next week

Tom_FittonTom Fitton: President Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life.
You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials