A government watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force to obtain records of a trip to Southern Africa in June by First Lady Michelle Obama. Judicial Watch is questioning whether the trip to South African and Botswana was necessary, given the nation’s current economic crisis.
The group wants the records to help determine the cost of the visit to taxpayers, which included a number of events where the first lady talked about education and health issues, and encouraged young people to get involved in national affairs.
Accompanied by her two daughters and staff, she also met with former South African President Nelson Mandela and ended the trip with a visit to a South African game preserve, a side-trip that Judicial Watch described as a “family safari.”
“How much did the American people spend to send the first lady on a family outing in Africa? That's what we want to know,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “On the surface, the trip seems to have been totally unnecessary and was as much an excuse for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a mission intended to advance the nation's business in Africa.”
The Washington, D.C. – based organization filed its lawsuit on August 19 after the Air Force failed to respond to a June 28 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request within 20 working days, as required by law.
The FOIA request focused on documents related to the operating costs of the military aircraft used not only to transport the first lady but anyone else who accompanied her, including the Secret Service.
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