Putting WH Press Secretary Earnest claim of “most transparent” to the test

On July 13, 2014, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said,

“I have a responsibility in this job to try to help the president live up to his commitment to be the most transparent president in history.”

President Barack Obama
We found this to be a compelling statement considering our attempts to learn the average cost of a round of golf for President Obama. In fact we were willing to even have just the cost of 1 round of golf. Our efforts involved FOIA request to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

On March 20, 2013 we made a FOIA request of the GAO – Why won’t the White House answer the question?. On March 26, 2013 we made the same FOIA request of the OMB, with a response on April 17, 2013 – OMB apparently believes Pres. Obama golf rounds are for free.

These FOIA requests were made in response to a question asked by Jonathan Karl of ABC News on March 14, 2013 (which we covered in article So how much does it cost for President Obama to golf?),

“How much does it cost for him to go and play golf?”

After 34 days of research and requests, the net result was essential that there is no cost that can be attributed to a single round of golf played by President Obama since 2009. A laughable response until you consider that this is taxpayer money we are dismissing.

But 2014 is a new year, Josh Earnest is a new Press Secretary, and perhaps the Obama Administration has suddenly become a more transparent Administration since our last FOIA request. So we decided to take up Secretary Earnest and ask our question again – with a few more specifics to see if that would help.

The following FOIA request was sent to the OMB on July 17, 2014 @ 2:56am:

Subject: FOIA request for information about 7/12/2014 golf outing at TPC Potomac

To whom it may concern,

I am a member of the press representing the Examinier.com and M V Consulting, Inc’s political news and commentary division.

I am requesting cost amounts related to the July 12,2014 round of golf involving President Obama, ESPN co-host Michael Wilbon, White House aide Marvin Nicholson, and co-founder of Silver Lake Partners Glenn Hutchins. This round of golf took place at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland as reported by the press.

To be specific, I am requesting:

1) The cost of gas and aviation fuel (if applicable) to transport President Obama to and from the golf course, as well as all members of staff that accompanied the President.

2) The average cost of non-salaried staff that had not volunteered their time, and were at this golf outing, as well as the approximate number of non-salaried staff.

3) The approximate cost of salaried staff under the same conditions as non-salaried staff.

4) The above can exclude any figures of Secret Service staff, or other applicable individuals where national security concerns may be involved.

5) The cost of food and refreshments for all involved including staff.

6) The cost of grounds fees.

7) The total of any donations of fees, food, refreshments, services, ect that were provided to the President and staff to reimburse or otherwise compensate the costs of this golf outing. In addition the name(s) of the institutions/organizations/individuals that made these donations if allowed by law to be reported.

8) Any and all other reasonably applicable costs in conjunction with this golf outing.

If the OMB does not have these records and another Department or Agency does have this information, we ask for the contact information to whomever we should be making this FOIA request with.

If there is specific legislation that prevents disclosure of part and/or the total of the records we have requested, we ask for the specific title of that legislation.

I thank you for your efforts in this matter.


Michael Vass

We hope to see an example of the “most transparent” Administration that Secretary Earnest has proffered to the American people. We will provide, verbatim as always, any and all responses from the OMB as we receive them.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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