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Michelle Obama's Spain trip cost taxpayers $500,000

London , Sat, 28 Apr 2012 ANI

London, Apr 28 (ANI): The First Lady's highly controversial and lavish whirlwind tour of Spain in 2010 burned a hole in the pockets of taxpayers by costing nearly half a million dollars.

The trip drew ire at the time, but the White House assured the public that the Obamas picked up the tab on their own.

But new information from Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates government corruption, detailed the extensive security costs to the United States Air Force and Secret Service.

The Obamas' highly publicized and polarizing vacations may cost the First Family even more, as voters appear to be disheartened by their extravagance.

"The American people can ill afford to keep sending the First Family on vacations around the globe," the Daily Mail quoted Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton as saying.

"There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips," Fitton said.

Michelle Obama had visited the Spain's picturesque coastal towns, shopped, toured and even had a lunch date with the country's King and Queen.

Her every move was highly documented and scrutinized by the press, which called her trip 'tone-deaf' during tough economic times.

"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," Fitton said.

The New York Times previously reported that Michelle brought along her daughter Sasha, 'two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members.'

The five-day trip cost at least 467,585 dollars according to Judicial Watch.

The total cost of flying Michelle from Camp Andrews to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was 199,323.75 dollars.

That tab is based on just 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.

The White House said that the First Lady would reimburse only the equivalent of first-class commercial tickets for herself and her daughter Sasha, since the rest of the seats were occupied by Secret Service.

Her friends flew on separate commercial flights, the New York Times reported.

The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel where group's lodging cost was 10,290.60 dollars and car rental costs were 2,633.50 dollars.

In addition, their food cost was 876.30 dollars.

Secret Service records, meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were 254,461.20 dollars.

This total includes 26,670.61 dollars for a chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol and 50,078.78 dollars for a travel planning company SET P and V, S.L.

Though her trips may cost taxpayers money, they could also cost President Obama his job.

Top-tier Republican pollsters, organized by Resurgent Republic, traveled to 11 battleground states to host focus groups.

They spoke to independent and swing voters who were Obama supporters in 2008, but are now undecided.

"They don't like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself," pollster John McLaughlin said to the Washington Examiner.

The lesson from the sessions, McLaughlin said, is that the first family 'is out of touch' with working class voters. (ANI)

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