The government watchdog group Judicial Watch has obtained government records showing that First Lady Michelle Obama’s flights to, from, and around southern Africa in June cost $424,142, plus another $928.44 for in-flight meals.
But the actual costs of the trip are much higher, given that the sum obtained by Judicial Watch does not include items such as ground transportation, security and lodging.
A White House Dossier article on June 27 that led to the Judicial Watch investigation found that the actual cost was possibly in the range of $700,000-$800,000. I’m happy to note that my own estimate then – before Judicial Watch obtained the flight manifests on which it based the $424,142 figure, was right on target, as I wrote that the cost of the flights was “about $430,000.”
While Mrs. Obama held many official events during the trip, the voyage also was part tourism, including visits to various landmarks, a nonworking meeting with Nelson Mandeal that she said was “surreal,” and a safari.
Mrs. Obama also brought along her mother, her two daughters, and their cousins – the two children of Michelle’s brother, Craig Robinson.
“A visit to South Africa is important for them as a family,” said a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman at the time.