Opinion

‘Park-gate’ scandal: Biden, other top Obama officials’ VIP vacations spark investigation

It’s their country, the rest of us just live in it.

The Obama administration’s attitude of entitlement extends even to vacations in the Grand Teton National Park, where Time reports that Vice President Joe Biden and members of the Obama Cabinet have enjoyed taxpayer-funded vacations at a VIP resort meant for “official business” only.

If your “official business” is being somehow born a Biden, related to a LaHood, or in general palling around with nobs of Washington these days, a dacha in Wyoming can be yours for nothing.

In August, according to Time, Biden took 11 members of his family – the magazine didn’t identify them specifically – for a four-day stay at the luxury, publicly paid for spot.

The Brinkerhoff Lodge – originally a vacation home built for Wyoming oil executive’s family — “features a two-story living room, a full-length deck, Western-style chandeliers and interior walls lined with log or knotty pine paneling,” according to Time. Not to mention the lake-front view.

All in all, pretty fancy for free.

And Obama’s vice president and Cabinet officials have taken advantage of it. Besides Biden and former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, others have included former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis.

Most of these folks could claim some sort of “official business” to justify their own stay at the resort. Biden, for instance, seems to have been taken on a tour of the park and gotten a “briefing,” according to Time. (Picture a Joe Biden briefing in a national park: “First of all, Mr. Vice President, try not to skinny dip in Lake Jackson.”)

But all brought entourages along who enjoyed the taxpayer largesse for nothing more than being a daughter-in-law, girlfriend or even just a friend of a family member.

The magazine’s reporting has already had at least two results.

On Tuesday, the Interior Department told Time it will investigate the lodge’s management.

(The Washington Post has already dubbed it “Park-gate.”  Hopefully, it will get more attention than the FBI’s giving the IRS scandal.)

Also, after the magazine started working on the report, Biden’s office said he would pay the park service $1,200 for the family’s four-night stay at the luxury lodge, Time reported. Salazar had already paid $150 for his family’s three-night stay (about what an average American might pay for a Motel 6 next to an interstate off-ramp.)

The first family’s penchant for taxpayer-funded expensive vacations to far-flung parts – Hawaii, Spain, China and so forth – is already well known. But the shear pettiness of EPA administrators and education secretaries frolicking with their families in the heartland for nothing — these people can’t afford to pay a $1,200 hotel bill? — is even more pathetic.

The worst part is they probably think they actually deserve it.

Because it’s their country. The rest of us just live in it.

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