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Pence’s Vail vacation cost taxpayers at least $750,000 just for Secret Service

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April 22, 2021, 4:17 pm

Back in December, RealVail.com broke the news that then-Vice President Mike Pence was returning to Vail for a ski vacation. Now, thanks to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), we know how much that junket cost taxpayers.

Vice President Mike Pence
Mike Pence

According to documents obtained by CREW, Secret Service alone cost taxpayers more than three-quarters of a million dollars – and bear in mind this was after Pence and President Donald Trump had been legitimately and resoundingly (more than 7 million votes) bounced from office in November.

Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1 in Vail, Pence reportedly required at least 48 agents and 77 rental cars, spending more than a quarter of a million dollars at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and another $80,000 at the Ritz Carlton. Vail police and Eagle County referred all inquiries to the vice president’s office and did not discuss local security measures or added expenses at the time.

All that protection may have seemed excessive in the relatively safe, rarified air of Vail, where Pence previously visited in a less lame-duck capacity over Memorial Day weekend in 2018 – a story also broken by RealVail.com. But his Secret Service contingent definitely earned its money after the veep returned to Washington to symbolically count the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6.

That’s when Trump questioned Pence’s loyalty and sent an angry mob of thousands to the Capitol to violently overtake the building, attack Capitol Police and try to “hang Mike Pence!”

By comparison, the Trump family took 12 times more protected trips than the Obama family, according to a 2020 CREW analysis. Click here for more details on that report. Michelle Obama visited Vail in 2011.

And here’s the full report from CREW on the Pence trip in 2020:

While coronavirus cases surged to record levels late last December, Vice President Mike Pence went on a ski vacation in Vail, Colorado. The trip came with a massive bill to taxpayers, with Secret Service protection alone costing $757,527.85, according to documents obtained by CREW. 

At the time of his holiday travel, Pence was the head of the White House coronavirus task force, which put out dire warnings after Thanksgiving as the CDC recommended that Americans stay home over the holidays in order to limit the spread of the virus. Clearly, Pence did not follow the government’s advice, and in the process put dozens of Secret Service agents at heightened risk of infection.

Pence’s trip extended from December 23rd to January 1st, and reportedly included a Secret Service entourage of at least 48 agents, contributing to both the high cost and the risk of infection.The agents stayed at several different hotels in the Vail area and rented 77 cars for the trip. The charges included more than $270,000 at the Marriott Vail Mountain and more than $80,000 at the Ritz Carlton.

Unfortunately, Pence’s unnecessary pandemic travel wasn’t a first for the Trump administration. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump did something similar, and traveled to Trump’s Bedminster club during the April 2020 stay at home orders. The Washington Post recently reported that career Secret Service staff suggested an inspector general investigation into the spread of coronavirus within the agency. The idea was rejected by the Trump-appointed IG, who also blocked other investigations that could have reflected badly on the Trump administration.

This also is not the first time Mike Pence stuck taxpayers with huge bills for his travel. Back in 2019, he traveled to Ireland for government business in Dublin, but stayed overnight at Donald Trump’s resort on the other side of the country in Doonbeg. Travel costs for that were more than half a million dollars, and also resulted in the Secret Service spending more than $15,000 at Trump’s resort. 

While Pence’s December trip to Vail was less nakedly corrupt than his trip to Doonbeg, it showed another kind of bad judgment, by putting many government workers tasked with keeping him safe at risk in the midst of a raging pandemic. We would hope that the head of the coronavirus task force would know better.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

4 Responses to Pence’s Vail vacation cost taxpayers at least $750,000 just for Secret Service

  1. Ted Lemeou Reply

    April 22, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    How did that compare to the secret service cost of Michelle Obama’s Vail vacation?

    • Democracy Reply

      April 23, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      You’d think the Capitol rioters would be angry at Pence’s blatant waste of their money, instead of freaking out over his fulfillment of formal VP duties.
      Thanks for this article, Mr Williams.

    • The Truth Hurts Reply

      April 23, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Michelle Obama’s vacation to Vail was only $200k

      But facts don’t matter when it’s a Democrat.

  2. Johnathan Reply

    April 23, 2021 at 6:11 am

    No one cares.

    Maybe real vail should do stories of the valley waste instead but oh wait can’t shine bad light on anyone here.

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