President Trump sent his flunky Mike Pence to stage a blatant political stunt at an NFL game Sunday and it cost taxpayers a maddening sum of money.
Pence made a big show of attending Sunday’s San Francisco 49ers-Indianapolis Colts game in his home state of Indiana. Except he didn’t stay long, making an even bigger show of him walking out of the game because he was apparently so offended that players would kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
“I left today’s Colts game because POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted.
I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Of course, this wasn’t a shocking realization Pence had at the game, it was a planned stunt that was made all the more obvious when reporters covering the trip were told to watch for an “early departure from the game.”
FLAG: Was Pence leaving Colts game a political stunt? Reporters were told to stay in van bc "there may be an early departure from the game."
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 8, 2017
The cheap stunt is made all the more frustrating by the gratuitous waste of taxpayer money.
Pence flew to Indianapolis after going to Las Vegas to meet with survivors of the deadliest mass shooting in American history. According to CNN, Pence spent an estimated $100,000 on the flight from Vegas to Indianapolis, and then another $142,500 on a flight from Indianapolis to Los Angeles Sunday. The completely unnecessary stunt cost the taxpayers a needless quarter million dollars.
The Vice President’s office attempted to make excuse the wasteful spending by blatantly lying about Pence’s plans.
“The Vice President was not going to miss the Las Vegas memorial prayer walk on Saturday, which he was honored to attend on behalf of President Trump,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “If the Vice President did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to DC for the evening – which means flying directly over Indiana. Instead, he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks.”
Statement from the VP's office defending the Indiana trip –> pic.twitter.com/MSEQSSMVng
— Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) October 9, 2017
If you’re scratching your head at this point it’s because you’ve been paying attention. Pence flew to California from Indiana, not DC, and did so just so he could attend a fundraiser in Newport Beach. The only way the statement makes sense is if Pence planned to fly back to DC only to fly across the country again to Los Angeles, which actually makes even less sense and would be an even bigger bill.
“I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country,” Trump wrote Sunday. “I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
“The trip by @VP Pence was long planned,” he tweeted Monday. “He is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!”
The trip by @VP Pence was long planned. He is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2017
The stunt, which accomplished less than nothing, cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when Trump’s entire cabinet appears to be using government coffers as personal expense accounts.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced out last month after spending a million dollars for private and military flights instead of commercial flights. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin have come under fire for similar spending.