Q&A on the News

Q: How much money in taxpayer dollars has Trump spent going to Florida each weekend? Besides Air Force One, what are the costs for room, board and golf, not only his family but also the various staff that have also traveled with him?

–Bill Worth, Atlanta

A: The Washington Post reported in February 2017 that "Trump's three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency."

Presidential travel is categorized as official, political or unofficial, depending on the trip purpose. If it is part of the president’s official duties, then the government pays all costs, including food, lodging, car rentals and other incidental expenses. If it is political or unofficial, food, lodging and other related expenses are paid for by those who are making the trip, or by political organizations. Presidential travel often involves a mix of official, political and/or unofficial activities.

The cost of operating Air Force One is about $200,000 per hour, according to Air Force data obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Congressional Research Service states, “For security and other reasons, the president, vice president and first lady use military aircraft when they travel.” That means the Air Force will pay all operational and other costs involved in the use of the aircraft.

Fast Copy News Service wrote this column; Keith Still contributed. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).