Combining the categories of governmental waste and taxpayers knowing where their money is going, this weekend it was reported that it cost taxpayers more than $325,000 for Mike Pence’s trip to see the Indianapolis Colts play last year. Pence didn’t even stay for the game, walking out in a huff before kickoff because there were “take a knee” style protests during the national anthem. Not that $325,000 seems reasonable even if Pence had stayed for the game, but since the point of the trip was for the Vice President to be at the game, it seems particularly wasteful that he walked out before even seeing it. Pence, like President Trump, has shown himself to be particularly obtuse about those protests, failing to understand that they represent an exercise of free speech and express valid concerns about racial inequality in this country. Pence and Trump prefer to cast the protests as disrespectful to soldiers, veterans, and the flag, when that is not at all the case. Many have noted that exercising one’s freedom of speech is actually highly respectful of the democratic underpinnings of this country.
$325,000. Why so much? Apparently $75,000 covered Pence’s hotels, additional security, and non-air travel, while the remaining, and staggering, $250,000 went to the use of Air Force Two and temporary walkways installed in downtown Indianapolis. That $325,000 tab paid by taxpayers does not even include the costs to local law enforcement. According to The Hill:
Vice President Mike Pence cost taxpayers at least $325,000 when he walked out of an NFL game last year in response to a protest during the anthem, according to a new report. The Huffington Post on Saturday reported based on newly released documents that Pence’s hotel stay, travel, Secret Service protection, and extra security measures added up to at least $325,000 in taxpayer dollars, not including the cost of local law enforcement or emergency services. Pence in October 2017 left an Indianapolis Colts game against the San Francisco 49ers in protest of NFL players kneeling during the anthem…The vice president left before kickoff, later saying he departed because “President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”…About $75,000 of the $325,000 total went to Pence’s expenses including hotels, travel and additional security measures, according to Huffington Post. The rest were a result of the use of Air Force Two and temporary walkways installed downtown.
The point of having a government official go to a game at taxpayer expense, if there is a point, is for the expression of good will, unity, and camaraderie, all of which are completely undermined by that government official leaving in a huff before the game even starts as Pence did. $325,000 of taxpayer money – what a waste.