It is only Barack Obama that deserves scrutiny for abuse of taxpayer-funded travel.
Your Judicial Watch is the leader (or the only one in D.C.) investigating and litigating for information on the cost of
Barack Obama lavish travels.
The known total expense to the American taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel is now $70,880,035.78. But the Air Force luxury planes are used for more than Barack Obama and his Executive Branch entourage.
These planes are also at the beck and call of Congress who loves using the planes to fly all over the world.
On the case of the Legislative Branch’s abuse of the military and taxpayer, we just filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking records concerning travel costs for members of Congress.
The lawsuit includes records about official congressional delegation travel (CODELS), which often use Air Force luxury jets and support personnel, authorized by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate.
Again, not one junket takes off without the approval of Republican leaders.
The lawsuit was filed after the U.S. Air Force — a component of the Department of Defense — ignored our modest August 14, 2015, request for congressional travel records, including:
- All records regarding mission taskings of flights escorting members of Congress.
- All records concerning transportation costs for transporting members of Congress.
- All passenger manifests (DD-2131) for transporting members of Congress.
- All weekly travel reports for members of Congress.
The recent history of congressional travel is rife with corruption and abuse. Former Speaker John Boehner reportedly retaliated against Republican members opposed to some of his policies by refusing approval for them to travel on CODELS. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, are two reported victims of this abuse.
Abusing the service of the Air Force to punish your enemies is downright contemptible and is one of the myriad reasons Boehner was forced out of the Speaker’s office.
Boehner, of course, replaced Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who, thanks to JW, had a travel scandal named after her – “Air Pelosi.”
Beginning in 2009, after the media failed to follow up on concerns raised about Nancy Pelosi’s use of luxury Air Force jets to travel between her congressional district and D.C.
Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information act requests exposed
her abuse of this travel perk.
Judicial Watch uncovered
that Pelosi’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.
JW also uncovered internal Defense emails detailing attempts by Defense Department staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft, as well as Pelosi’s last minute cancellations and changes. Pelosi’s office treated the Air Force like a taxi service.
show the Pentagon sent “heads up” emails to members of Congress providing them with planned responses to FOIA requests about their travel filed by Judicial Watch, The Wall Street Journal, Congressional Quarterly, and Roll Call — among other organizations.
What happened was we would ask for travel records from the Pentagon. The Pentagon would find such records that might mention a senator or congressman.
Rather than give us these records first, the Pentagon would then send a warning letter and the specific records to these Capitol Hill politicians a full week before the Pentagon would give it to us as the law requires.
Judicial Watch’s work exposing Pelosi’s travel abuses resulted in her successor John Boehner, in a fit of ethics, declining to use Air Force luxury jets to travel to his Ohio congressional district.
Last week, a spokesperson for new House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., confirmed to us that Speaker Ryan has also declined to use Air Force jets to travel between his congressional district and Washington, D.C.
It's nice to see that the reform resulting from JW’s work continues to hold.
In December 2010, the House Ethics Committee refused
to take action despite admitted violations of the rules regarding the use of taxpayer funds by members.
And in June 2011, over a year after Judicial Watch’s complaint, the Senate Ethics Committee responded
to us by merely reminding all members and staff to follow all of the rules regarding travel “per diems,” especially the rule requiring that unused cash be returned to taxpayers.
Taxpayers will fairly conclude that the Republican-controlled Congress hasn’t reined in Obama’s abusive travel practices because Congress wants continued access to the same types of luxury jets — at taxpayers’ expense — that Obama and other top government officials use.
This is one issue on which Republicans and Democrats agree,
You might want to ask Hill Republicans (or Democrats who happily travel with them) how they justify and account for the taxpayer and military burdens of their travel junkets.
Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch. He is a nationally recognized expert on government corruption. A former talk radio and television host and analyst, Tom is well known across the country as a national spokesperson for the conservative cause. He has been quoted in Time, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and most every other major newspaper in the country. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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