Anger mounts over Michelle Obama's £150k Spanish holiday bill... footed by U.S. taxpayer
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 3:25 PM on 6th August 2010
Michelle Obama today faced a fresh wave of attacks over her lavish break in Spain with 40 friends which has cost U.S. taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds. The First Lady has been lambasted for her extravagance at a time when the economy is still struggling. One blogger went so far as to brand her a modern-day Marie Antoinette.
The exact cost of the trip is unclear as Mrs Obama, 46, and her friends are footing personal expenses - including accommodation at Marbella's five-star Hotel Villa Padierna - themselves. But the taxpayer will have to pick up the tab for the First Lady's 68-strong security detail, her personal staff - and the use of presidential jet Air Force Two.
The cost of accommodating the secret service team runs at around £172 each a day which amounts to nearly £60,000 for the length of the summer break. Use of Air Force Two, the Air Force version of a 757, comes in at £91,900 for the round trip. This does not include time on the ground.
The American public will also cover the cost of the only official part of the holiday, a visit to the Spanish royal family on the island of Majorca. A conservative estimate puts the total amount at around £150,000.
Back in the U.S., anger was mounting - especially as it has emerged the First Lady will have enjoyed eight holidays by the end of the summer.
These include a trip to Los Angeles in June, a visit to the Florida's oil-hit Gulf Coast next weekend and a ten-day trip to Martha's Vineyard later this month.
White House press secretary Robin Gibbs was asked at a briefing if there were any concerns about how the visit was being viewed by the public. 'The First Lady is on a private trip,' he said. 'She is a private citizen and is the mother of a daughter on a private trip. I think I'd leave it at that.'
Yesterday New York Daily News columnist and blogger Andrea Tantaros likened the President’s wife to French queen Marie Antoinette, who was famously extravagant with her spending.
Tantaros wrote: ‘To be clear, what the Obamas do with their money is one thing; what they do with ours is another. Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.’