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Mrs. Obama’s South Africa Trip Cost Taxpayers Over $500,000

First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to South Africa and Botswana last week cost taxpayers well over half a million dollars, possibly in the range of $700,000 or $800,000, according to an analysis by White House Dossier.

Many of the trip’s expenses cannot be obtained with specificity, including the cost of local transportation for the first lady, Secret Service protection, the care and feeding of staffers, and pre-trip advance work done by administration officials in South Africa.

But it is possible to estimate some of these costs and put a price tag on one of the major expenses – her transportation to and from southern Africa and her trips between cities there.

While the goals of her journey – “youth leadership, education, health and wellness” in southern Africa, according to the White House – are laudable, many may question whether such an expensive outreach overseas by the president’s wife is worthwhile given the threat of the ballooning federal debt to the economy.

This is particularly true given that the trip, while featuring many official events, also included tourist components such as visits to historical landmarks and museums, a nonworking chance to meet Nelson Mandela that Mrs. Obama described as “surreal,” and a safari. Mrs. Obama also brought along her mother, her daughters and two of their cousins – the children of her brother Craig Robinson.

In a conversation last week with a South African online newspaper, U.S. Embassy Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau made clear that the trip was partially a personal pilgrimage for the first lady.

“She’s coming on this trip to talk about women’s development and youth development, and South Africa is a leader in that, not only on the continent but globally,” said Trudeau. “A visit to South Africa is important for them as a family. She’ll be visiting many Struggle-era landmarks, including the Apartheid Museum (and) the Hector Pieterson Memorial.”

Based on the plane’s tail number and a description of it in a press pool report, it’s clear Mrs. Obama flew over and back on a C-32, a specially configured military version of the Boeing 757 that also ferries the vice president on occasion and is sometimes known as “Air Force Two.”

According to publicly available Defense Department figures, DOD charges other federal agencies $12,723 an hour to cover expenses for the use of a C-32. Based on the distance traveled and the flight speed of the plane, this adds up to about $430,000 for use of the aircraft alone.

Perhaps the best estimate of the other costs involved in such a trip comes not from official sources but from a reporter, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. In a 2002 article, he wrote that his reporting had found that a single presidential fundraising trip within the United States by then-President George W. Bush could cost close to $100,000 for items like staff, Secret Service and advance work.

While the first lady would certainly have a smaller retinue than a president, it seems very safe to say that a weeklong trip by Mrs. Obama to a high-crime country like South Africa would involve at least the expense of a single domestic trip by a president ten years ago, and probably much more.

In addition, a military cargo plane typically accompanies a first lady on overseas trips to bring cars and other gear. It is not clear if a cargo plane also went along on this trip, but if it did – as is likely – it could easily have added another $200,000 to the cost, based on Defense Department rates for cargo planes.

Mrs. Obama’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

455 Responses to Mrs. Obama’s South Africa Trip Cost Taxpayers Over $500,000

  1. Please ask Speaker Boehner to take away her credit cards. This is outrageous. There are absolutely zero reasons for that cow to be traveling around the world while real American’s are suffering unemployment.

  2. Business as usual from the royal political class.
    To be honest, it doesn’t matter if they are D or R. Yes, I know there are exceptions but there are very few of them. To be sure, the Obamas are slightly exceptional having come through Illinois politics where it is expected one will benefit personally from public office. And what would Dr. King think of the Obamas? Since they seem to have advanced on the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character. Really they are the African-American version of the Clintons, just less entertaining.
    Realistically, the money here is a drop in the bucket compared to the recent looting of the treasury by Wall Street and the PRIVATE Federal Reserve Banking Corporation which past presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush along with Obama could be held accountable for. Yes, all of them. The destruction of this nation has been long in the making. Where is the outrage for this?

  3. The audacity of that arrogant bitch ! Has she not spent enough galavanting around the globe ? It is beyond reason for her to be allowed to waste taxpayers dollars for vacations.

  4. Now…let’s see…how many school lunches for poor people would that have bought in the ghettos being enlarged by President Obama’s policies…what’s that Mrs. O, let them eat what? Cake? Oh, how…continental of you!

  5. Another vacation. No one mentioned where she, mommy and kids and two cousins stayed and what that cost us.
    She is also flying all over to campaign and raise more money for Obama to run for office again. We pay for that too. and for his trips.

    read the white house schedule daily. Obama does very little a very few meeting if he is in the white house. Usually gone on air force one.

  6. There is always hope that there are not enough people to bribe to get this election to go Obama’s way. Thugocracy will never work in America. Shame on the White House and Congress and the bought and paid for media and special shame on 60s druggies who fried not only their own brains but the brains of our children with their nonsense!

    • The thing Obama did is hire an employee from the radical amnesty group, La Raza, to work for him. Since she began her job, La Raza has received millions upon millions in donations from our government agencies. Go to to read the story. Obama is going to give 50 million illegals amnesty so they can re-elect him. It is thoroughly disgusting. Read about it in Judicial Watch.

  7. Ooohh, the lefties sure get all tied up in knots over anything negative about the Obamas. Why don’t they show the same kind of disgust over the lies said about the Bushes or now about the Thomases? Where were they when the Bushes took grief for every single thing they did? Where were they when the yelled and scream over Nancy Reagan buying a good set of china for the WH when the money was privately raised for it?

    I get really tired of the lies and innuendo that comes out of mouths of left. REALLY, REALLY tired of it.

  8. No big deal!!! Michelle’s self serving trips are just some of the perks to which she is “entitiled” as FLOTUS. It’s the Chicago Way. “I’m going to bleed you as dry as I can. in order th advance my personal agenda” This is also the day that pathetic Blago is indicted for atttempting to “sell Obama’s senate seat” Oh horrors!! The realization that Barack has been selling himself for years is lost in the righteous condemnation of Blago. Come on, he was just playing the game the Chicago Way. The Obama’s are looking forward to the coming Global governance and are carefully positioning themselves to be among the first to get the Global vote. American is merely the stepping stone.

    • he wasn’t indicted today – he was found guilty on 17 counts of corruption. The higher they are in the chicago mob, the more corrupt they are. How corrupt is Obama? How high is the sky?

  9. If all that trip cost us was $500,000 I would do a backflip. The food bill in the flight out and back would stagger a mule. How much Kobe beef and lobster can be stored in the cargo hold of a c-32? And there is that Mother again. What position exactly did we elect Michelle’s mother to? Why is she globe trotting around the earth on our dime? Is she on the payroll?

    • Probably. His “auntie” is probably on the payroll, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were living in the White House also.

  10. “…many may question whether such an expensive outreach overseas by the president’s wife is worthwhile given the threat of the ballooning federal debt to the economy.”

    I’m one of those who question. What answer would the lady in question give if that question were posed to her?

    “Let them eat carrots!”

    • I’ll tell you what is important to her – using every dollar she can use while they are in office. Remember she drank $1,000 a bottle wine in England, ate the most expensive, fattening meal in her life in Colorado – and wore a $2,500 dollar dress to a party – a dress that looked like it had been made from the draperies at the White House.

  11. Do as I say and not as I do mentality.
    She and the kids got a nice vacation on our taxpayer dime while using the excuse of promoting “youth leadership, education, health and wellness.”
    Right…meet a couple of kids, tell them “study hard and eat your veges”. “OK, now let’s go to the zoo, who wants ice cream!!”
    I’m sure the Obama kids will grow up to be nice, self entitled, selfish brats; just like their parents.

  12. I hadn’t realized when Obama said that it was good to spread the wealth around that he was referring to spreading it to his wife and Mother in Law.
    What recession? We’re back on top!

  13. As long as we are funding lavish trips to foriegn countries instead of investing in our education system or infrastructure, we still have a chance at a D rating. Glad to see the Change.

  14. French fries and fat cakes don’t come cheap you know and the FLOTUS can certainly put away the junk food while everyone else has to eat cake.

  15. Can you please reference all your previous articles on first lady travels. Otherwise to single ms. Obama out is just poor journalistic work.

      • Laura Bush took 5 trips to Africa during the Bush administration. She also went to Burma, the Middle East, Europe. It is the job of the first lady to represent the United States on visits to foreign countries. She brought her staff along just like Michelle.

        • Bet Laura Bush didn’t tote along Grandma and the cousins. We don’t vote for these women, and they do not represent us. The title of first lady is honorary and doesn’t come with a job description. Besides, just because Laura Bush does something doesn’t make it right for Michele Obama to do the same thing or worse. Don’t you remember her husband promising no more business as usual? I sure do.

          • Weak response, there is clearly a double-standard – that’s the point. And frankly, first ladies representing our country around the world is a tradition that shouldn’t change. It’s important. The goodwill it generates is worth a LOT more than $500K.

          • Weak response. We have severe economics here at home. She would generate a lot more goodwill and save us a heck of a lot of money if she stayed at home and helped deal with the urban unrest. You haven’t noticed the uptick in flash mobs by black youth? They are beating, robbing and terrorizing communities here in America and she and her husband say nothing.

          • And what exactly would you like to see Michelle Obama do about urban unrest? What did Laura Bush do about it? Or do you have to be black to do something about it? Is urban unrest a new phemonena? Are you responsible for Loughner and McVeigh and Dahlmer and every other white violent criminal?

          • I’ll mention again, the race card has expired. These flash mobs are a recent phenomena and they are escalating in occurrence. Loughner, McVeigh and Dahlmer were nuts. Nuts come in all shapes, sizes, and colors my friend.

  16. I agree. That was my thought from the first. I would also call attention to the cost of the numerous trips made by the President as well as those many expensive state dinners.

  17. Mrs Obama should stay home and look around DC and other cities in the Northeast and see rampaging mobs of black kids rioting, shoplifting and beating people half to death. Those are the ones she and other black leaders should be paying attention to. It is a disgrace that there has been no outcry by anyone in the black community.

    • You seem a bit preoccupied with her race. Do the Obamas have to be responsible for every bad thing a black person does in this country? Was Bush responsible for Timothy McVeigh? Did you “outcry” about white youth when Congreswoman Giffords was shot by a white teenager?

  18. She sure stuffed down enough fried food on this trip; maybe it was worth it and she found Barry’s real birth certificate and the paperwork for his Conneticut issued social security number (when he’s never lived or worked there).

  19. Well I didn’t even get a postcard did you? Besides I wanted to go someplace different perhaps a trip to some American treasures? I would
    bet they could use the business don’t you? I guess we just aren’t Michelle’s
    cup of tea maybe she’s not proud of us anymore.

    • Lizzy – I think part of her job is to be an ambassador for the United States, don’t you? Laura Bush took 5 trips to Africa during the Bush administration. She also went to Burma, the Middle East, Europe. It is the job of the first lady to represent the United States on visits to foreign countries. She brought her staff along just like Michelle.

      • Since you are cutting and pasting your comments, I’m pasting my response to your previous blather. Bet Laura Bush didn’t tote along Grandma and the cousins. We don’t vote for these women, and they do not represent us. The title of first lady is honorary and doesn’t come with a job description. Besides, just because Laura Bush does something doesn’t make it right for Michele Obama to do the same thing or worse. Don’t you remember her husband promising no more business as usual? I sure do.

      • She did but the girls were paid for by the Bush family not the taxpayer.! Laura Bush did so much work in Africa and the Middle East for women, AIDS and GW has done more provided more money
        for AIDS than any past President. Laura Bush never made a habit of
        spending on clothes. Both Bushes did not party or have date night.
        We are a checkbook for the Obama family. They may have been a
        bit boring but they did and do respect the American and the military.
        To them it was more than a very expensive ego trip.

  20. Oh yeah, is this where she says do as I say not as I do? You cant eat fried foods, but dont tell me not to. What a bunch of crap. Obummer should be sent to prison for treason and Mrs Obummer should be sent there for wasting our hard earned money and a dumb ass trip and taking two cousins and the children of her brother. Why dont we help the homeless here before we help others that could give a crap about the USA? What the He!!? Stay in the USA and do your damn job.

  21. The Obama’s continuously waste the money of the people of the United States for their own personal vacations. They spent almost 200 million dollars a day ferrying over 80 friends around the entire India and Asia. There need to be a stop to this wasteful spending. They could have solved the medical issues of thousands of Americans.

      • Deurod: Look it up. You are not interested in hearing the truth about the Obama’s. You just want to criticize everyone who does not like the Obamas and the damage they are doing to America. (And there are millions who do not like them and understand what they want to do to America.) Why not go meditate.

  22. Too bad they can’t vacation in the US once in a while (not just the brief stop to the Gulf last summer)….our economy sure could use some of that $700K.

  23. She has not the slightest idea about what poor taste she exhibits. Americans have lost their jobs, homes by the millions but the emporor and his lady live in luxury, spending, spending, spending.

  24. “It is my occupation to be plain.”
    Wasteful, wasteful. Young black mobs are terrorizing the cities and towns. The example given by Mrs. Obama is quite explicit that is to waist America. Our laws, our, treasure, our self respect.
    The president of South Africa sent the Minister of Prisons to greet her, that speaks volumes as to his respect for this freeloader.

  25. Not only that, I heard that when the first family recently went to Applbee’s for dinner, Michelle and Barack both ordered steaks, even though there were a number of interesting options on the “2 for $20” part of the menu. Furthermore, Sasha leaves her bedroom light on sometimes, which not only wastes taxpayer money on electricity bills, but also shows what a hypocrite this administration is when it comes to saving energy and reducing fossil-fuel consumption. Back to Applebees, Michelle got onion rings with her steak – she’s such a hypocrite too! She wants to send us taxpayers to jail just cuz we like to eat a McGriddle every now and then, and she’s out there eating onion rings! Who gives these people the right to live so high on the hog when there are so many unemployed people in this country? They are actually staying in a hotel in Africa, instead of a tent in the desert, which would have saved us taxpayers a lot of money – the hotel doesn’t even have a free continental breakfast!

    • Maybe you missed Granny Jan’s link to their accommodations over there in Africa, so I’m reposting her comment. You can bet your bippy that joint has more than a free continental breakfast…

      “Here’s where they stayed:

      Expect superb service and sophisticated standards of care
      The luxurious suites have revitalizing private outside showers
      Mateya Safari Lodge has one of the world’s finest art collections
      Mateya Safari Lodge is situated in the malaria-free Madikwe Reserve”

  26. Well, it’s obvious that she was elected to….never mind. She is the ambassador to….never mind. Her official status in the Federal Government is…. oh yeah, First Squeeze. Who and even what the he(( is going on here? When I worked for the Fed and took a car across the street to breakfast I ran the risk of instant termination. She isn’t even an employee…so is she going to be fired as First Squeeze? If this trailer trash group doesn’t get thrown out in the next election, we will have earned what happens to us for sure. A lame duck idiot would scare the heck out of me for sure.

  27. Didn’t Moochelle have to ride in cargo. She is a heavy french fries and fried cake eater. I’m sure her broad beam doesn’t even fit in a first-class seat.

    She is doing all her traveling now because she only has one more summer and that’s it.

    Isn’t it time for them to fly to Martha’s Vineyard or Hawaii for the 4th? Better make sure that there is a separate flight for the dog.

  28. Well that is nice of us isn’t it? I am glad in these risky times we could come up with the money to send the Obama’s on a nice little trip.

  29. Did she take along her 40 assistants (that’s right, every other First Lady had ONE, she has 40), did she take along 400 friends like the trip to Spain where she rented out 500 rooms?
    Her AND Hussein Obama had to surrender their law licenses, just like Clinton lost his. Hussein goes golfing 75 times, parties, concerts, and he laughs at “there were no shovel ready jobs, haha”. 498 more days till November, 2012, remember: ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES. Send them both back to Africa!

  30. Let’s see if I get this straight. POTUS says the Repubs desire to cut spending is “Immoral”. FLOTUS spends $500,000.00 of MY money and it’s all just peachy?? Oh well, let us eat cake!! Or maybe French Fries!!

    • They didn’t include hotel costs, meal, spas, and other expenditures. Her trip was probably more like 1 million. I sadly see a trend here for her – she went to one of the most expensive places on earth when she went to Spain. Now Africa?

  31. All I want to know is, when is the camel jockey going to write a check to the treasurey for Muchelle’s vacation, this should be on their dime not ours.

  32. Lard butt knows her husband is a one term President so she is going to get all she can while he is in office. Any bets the Obama’s pilferage the White House before they leave like the Clinton’s did?

  33. How many millions (nay, billions) of taxpayers dollars have been spent flying first ladies like Michelle and Hillary (and their girl friends) around the world on shopping trips under the guise of being anything but?

  34. Well I’m sure she was way overdue for a taxpayer funded international romp, I mean it had been a whole 4 or 5 weeks since the last one right?
    Thanks to her husband and the democrats, I can’t even afford to take a vacation away from home any more, but gee I’m sure glad I can help pay for hers!