The trip that Vice President Mike Pence took this weekend to see the Indianapolis Colts play in his home state — which he later left in protest after players did not stand for the national anthem — cost taxpayers nearly $250,000, according to an ABC News estimate.
Pence’s costly trip comes as a number of Trump administration officials have come under scrutiny in recent weeks over the cost of their travel on private and military planes.
Pence traveled from Las Vegas to his home state Sunday to watch the Indianapolis Colts play the San Francisco 49ers. At least 20 members of the 49ers — the team that started the anthem protests — knelt during the anthem, leading to the vice president’s departure.
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” said Pence in a statement afterward.
Vice President Pence leaves Colts game early after players kneel during national anthem
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The vice president traveled to Indiana’s capital in an Air Force C-32 that costs $30,290 per hour to operate. Flying from Las Vegas, where he was visiting those affected by last week’s mass shooting, the trip took approximately three-and-a-half hours, totaling $106,015.
After leaving the game, Pence left for Los Angeles, a four-and-a-half-hour flight that cost $136,305, bringing the total for the two legs of the trip to $242,320. The vice president’s office told ABC News it expects some of that cost will be reimbursed through political funds because he attended a political fundraising event in Los Angeles. The office did not specify how much would be reimbursed.
Had Pence skipped the trip to Indianapolis and flown straight to Los Angeles from Las Vegas — a 1 hour, 15-minute flight — the expense would have been $37,862.50.
An official with the vice president’s office argued that despite the brevity of Pence’s stay in Indianapolis, the journey Sunday was actually cheaper than it would have been otherwise as it was never the intention to travel straight to Los Angeles.
“If the vice president did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to D.C. for the evening — which meant flying directly over Indiana,” said the official. “Instead, he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks.”
The attention on Pence’s travel costs comes just over a week after Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in the wake of revelations that he broke precedent by repeatedly utilizing charter and military aircraft for his government travel during his cabinet tenure.
Several other administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and EPA Administrator Steve Pruitt, are the subject of inquiries by their departments’ inspectors general over their travel aboard private or government aircraft.