CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington—Vice President Mike Pence’s infamous publicity stunt at an NFL game last month cost the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department more than $14,000, according to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Shortly after arriving, Pence ostensibly left the game in anger over a silent protest by players. The same day, President Trump tweeted that he “asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country.” The visit to the football game was reportedly added last minute to an already planned trip to the West Coast. Prior to the game, reporters were told by a Pence staffer that there was a chance Pence would depart early.
“The tone is set at the top when it comes to this administration’s disregard for ethics,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Vice President Pence should know better than to use taxpayer money to make a rhetorical point, but carelessness with taxpayer money seems to be a common theme with senior administration officials.”
According to the records received in response to an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) filed by CREW, the local police cost for the stunt was $14,163.36. This cost is in addition to the reported approximate travel cost of $242,500 for Pence to fly from Las Vegas, NV, to Indianapolis, IN, and then to Los Angeles, CA, where he went afterwards for a fundraiser.
“There’s a difference between what can you can get away with legally and what is ethically right,” Bookbinder said. “At a time when the administration is proposing massive budget cuts for the federal government, it is especially inappropriate to use taxpayer dollars for a political publicity stunt.”
The issue of inappropriate flights and their costs to taxpayers first rose to prominence when CREW filed open records requests relating to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s use of a government plane to view the solar eclipse from Fort Knox. CREW has since requested a government-wide investigation into private jet travel by agency officials.