Obama’s Daughters Listed as Senior Staffers on Africa Trip-Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
This is forwarded email that alleges the Judicial Watch organization has obtained White House documents detailing a costly trip to Africa for First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia. The documents showed the President’s daughters listed as White House Senior Staffers.
The report from the Judicial Watch organization is real, according to an October 4, 2011 press release found on their website.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch filed a request on June 28, 2011 inquiring about transportation records, passenger manifests and mission tasking for Michelle Obama’s June 2011 trip to Africa.
The group posted their findings:
According to U.S. Department of Defense’s published hourly rates for the C-32A aircraft used for the trip, Judicial Watch calculated the total cost to American taxpayers was $424,142 for use of the aircraft (34.8 flight hours x $12,188 per hour). (The C-32 is a specially configured military version of the Boeing 757.) Other expenses – meals (off the plane), transportation, security, various services, etc. – have yet to be disclosed.”
The passenger manifests confirm the presence of Obama’s daughter’s, Malia and Sasha on the trip. The two girls are listed as “Senior Staff.” The manifests also list Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, and niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, as well Mrs. Obama’s makeup and hairstylist (Carl Ray and Johnny Wright).
The expense records also show $928.44 was spent for “bulk food” purchases on flight. Overall, during the trip, 192 meals were served for the 21 passengers on board.
The White House disputed the Judicial Watch report, according to an ABC article released on that same day, saying that “a number of assertions made by the group are in error.”
A White House senior official told ABC that “The Obama daughters were not listed as Senior Staff – that only designates the area of the plane where they were seated.” The spokesperson added that the “Air Force categorizes the passengers by compartment on the plane.”
As for the cost of the trip the official told ABC “The number stated is misconstrued and out of context. The hourly rate is not the marginal cost of operating the plane — it is an accounting figure that prices in a number of fixed costs from maintaining the Air Force fleet for this kind of plane over a year. For example, it includes estimated replacement parts, depreciation, repairs, and costs that would have been incurred regardless of this flight.”
The White House official also told ABC that although there were five to seven official business events planned throughout the day the private safari “was designated as a private event and paid for personally.”