After two items last week on the cost of lodging for Vice President Joe Biden's early February trip to Europe, other news organizations began to investigate further. Wolf Blitzer's show The Situation Room on CNN uncovered a contract apparently also related to the same visit to Paris:
Also on the receipt was $321,665 for a limousine company.
Although CNN did not link to the document, the notice of the contract award for the limousine service was posted on the same government website as the hotel contracts. Oddly, the "Contract Award Date" is listed as 2012, but this seems to simply be a typo:
The CNN report went on to explain that the limousine costs did not seem out of the ordinary:
As for the limousine to travel around Paris, the former advance official said that goes for the motor pool.
The vice president's limo is flown in, but staff members on the trip didn't take the Metro around. They're not allowed to drive themselves and tend to book normal cars and drivers with the motor company-but don't necessarily take limousines. The $321,665 figure in Paris sounded about right, that former official said.
The peculiarity pointed out by the CNN report and by Wolf Blitzer himself, based on his years reporting on the White House, is that these contracts are publicly available at all. A search of the government website in question reveals very few other contracts related to the travels of the president or vice president. However, another one of those rare finds also involves limousine service for a trip to France, this one from November 2011 when President Obama travelled to the G20 Summit in Cannes.
Inexplicably, the contract award amount is listed as only $10,000, which is wildly at odds with the $321,665 for Vice President Biden's trip. However, this listing, unlike the one for the Biden trip, includes an accompanying Justification and Approval document. It reveals that the estimated cost of vehicles and drivers for the president's Cannes visit was $731,938, not to exceed $1.4 million:
The president was in France for less than 36 hours.