Sunday, January 23, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Christmas vacation: Obamas get trip to Hawaii, taxpayers get ‘jelly-of-the-month’ club
By Malia Zimmerman @ 2:00 PM :: 4522 Views :: National News

Christmas vacation: Obamas get trip to Hawaii, taxpayers get ‘jelly-of-the-month’ club

AP file photo AP file photo FAMILY TRADITION: Since first winning the White House in 2008, the first family has vacationed in President Obama’s native Hawaii during the Christmas season.

By Malia Zimmerman,, December 18, 2013

KAILUA, Hawaii – The presidential family will soon be vacationing in Hawaii.

It’s a holiday tradition for the Obamas, who have visited Kailua each year since 2008. The president and his friends pay rent for the 17-day trip, about $25,000 per week.

Taxpayers pay for most everything else, about $4 million, based on what we know.

Just call it another holiday tradition, of sorts, one that Clark W. Griswold would surely appreciate. The Obamas get a bonus while taxpayers get the bill, akin to an annual membership in the metaphoric jelly-of-the-month club.

It breaks down like this:

The 18-hour roundtrip aboard Air Force One costs $179,750 per hour for flight and operations — $3,235,500 total, estimates Michael Tasselmyer of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation,

A Congressional Research Service report released in May 2012 mirrors those estimates. The cost for a C-17 jet carrying presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii has never been disclosed. But the roundtrip flight time from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and Hawaii is 21.5 hours, with estimated operating costs of $12,000 per hour, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

 RELAX: View from the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki where the White House staff stays while the first family is in Hawaii.

The U.S. Marine Corps provides a presidential helicopter, along with pilots and support crews for the test flights, which travel on another C-17. That costs $258,000, not including per diem and hotel for the four- to six-member crew. U.S. Secret Service, Navy Seals and Coast Guard members rent homes along the canal and ocean for $250 per room per night, according to people who rent the houses.

A real estate source said the delegation, which arrives before the president, rents at least seven homes in the area, costing taxpayers more than $183,750.

White House staff who don’t stay in Kailua stay at the posh Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa on Waikiki Beach. Hotel rooms typically rent for $670 a night, but the hotel offers discounted government rates for about $255, according to hotel public relations manager Diana Su.

The Air Force flies in 22 vehicles so the president can golf, attend a basketball game with friends at Punahou School —Obama’s alma mater — or visit favorite restaurants such as Nobu’s and Buzz’s Steakhouse. Honolulu Police on special duty are paid $250,000 — another $10,000 is spent on an around-the-clock ambulance detail.

 PAYING FOR THE VIEW: The first family enjoys sunrises like these when they vacation in Kailua over the Christmas holidays

The White House annually refuses to disclose the cost of several things, citing security. Such as:

  • An entire floor of an office building in Kailua on the canal during the president’s stay.
  • Security upgrades, such as bulletproof glass and additional phone lines added to private homes; existing security systems are disabled.
  • Rental cars and fuel for staff and security, as well as additional costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the president.

Because of emergency budget negotiations last year, the president made two round trips from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii, nearly doubling the cost of the vacation — more than $7.2 million.

Judicial Watch in May sued the Secret Service to “obtain records concerning use of U.S. Government funds to provide security and any other services to President Obama and any companions on their January 1 and 2, 2013, trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.”

The case, Judicial Watch v. U.S. Secret Service, continues, but there is nothing new, Judicial Watch spokeswoman Jill Farrell said this week.

The lawsuit, based on a Hawaii Reporter and report that detailed the cost of the 2012 Christmas vacation, was filed after the Secret Service failed to provide information to Judicial Watch in response to a Jan. 2 Freedom of Information Act request.

“As of May 6, the Secret Service had yet to produce any record,” Judicial Watch said in a May 2013 statement.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii