Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Update on Obama's Australia Trip: Five Hotels, $2.1M

    When President Obama visited Brisbane, Australia in November for the G-20 summit, the entire delegation required multiple hotels and thousands of "room nights" for the length of the stay, though the president himself spent only one night in his hotel. Initially, as first reported by THE WEEKLY STANDARD, it appeared a total of three hotels and 4,096 room nights were booked. However, additional contracts posted last week bring the total to 5,146 room nights and $2.1 million.
    In addition to the Marriott, the Urban and the Adina hotels, the state department also contracted with the Watermark and the Traders hotels in Brisbane. The Traders contract was for $224,776.66 to cover 503 room nights plus function space, while the Watermark was $175,263.67 for 547 room nights. An attempt was made to confirm that no more hotel contracts were issued for this trip, but after an initial response acknowledging the inquiry, no answer was forthcoming.
    Each of the contract documents states that "Senior High Level USG Principal traveling with a delegation inclusive of support elements in: Security, Communications, Logistics and Operations." Despite the 5,000-plus "room nights" in the contracts, the number of persons on the trip could be considerably less since advance security teams, diplomatic personnel and others may arrive in advance and stay multiple days or even weeks. The state department has been reluctant in the past to reveal details about the size of the delegations accompanying the president on such trips, and the Australia trip is no exception. The state department did not respond to a request to clarify, even broadly, the number of US government personnel that were involved in this trip.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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