President Barack Obama follows through on a swing while golfing in 2015, at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Obama speech and long golf weekend with Tiger Woods costs $3.6 million

If you’ve ever wondered how much it costs taxpayers when presidents go on golfing getaways, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has come up with a pretty clear answer: a bundle.

The GAO released a report Wednesday saying that it costs about $3.6 million in February 2013 for President Obama to travel to Chicago for a speech and then hit the Treasure Coast in Florida for a long golfing weekend. Among his golfing partners was Tiger Woods.

The GAO looked into the matter after being asked to do so by Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who is not exactly the president’s biggest fan in Washington.

The president had recently given his first State of the Union Address of his second term in 2013 when he headed for Chicago and Hyde Park Academy, where he talked about his economic proposals. Afterward, he flew to Palm Beach for a golfing vacation.

The GAO found that the trips, from Feb. 15 to Feb. 18 cost the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security about $3.6 million. That excludes some costs, such as salaries and benefits of civilian and military personnel traveling with the president.

The use of military aircraft to support presidential travel began with President Franklin Roosevelt, the GAO said in its report to Barrasso. So that’s not necessarily anything new.

The cost of presidential travel - particularly vacation travel - has long been a political bone of contention. Typically whichever political party is out of power rails against it, and whichever party is in power defends it.

The conservative group Judicial Watch reported in July that it had added up almost $80 million in travel by Obama and his family since the president took office in 2009.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said at the time, “President Obama’s travel is a scandal. It’s about his abuse of the office and his abuse of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”

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