Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a top government ethics watchdog group, blasted Vice President Mike Pence for reportedly spending over $250,000 in taxpayer dollars on travel to an Indianapolis Colts game that he quickly walked out of, asking “can we just make it through a weekend without this administration abusing taxpayer dollars with jet travel?!”
CAN WE JUST MAKE IT THROUGH A WEEKEND WITHOUT THIS ADMINISTRATION ABUSING TAXPAYER DOLLARS WITH JET TRAVEL!? https://t.co/nBEBDwLEjv
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 8, 2017
Pence and second lady Karen Pence traveled to Indianapolis from Las Vegas for the game Sunday afternoon but quickly walked out of the game after NFL players kneeled during the national anthem.
His criticisms of the players’ protest has come under intense scrutiny, with one Indianapolis sports columnist accusing Pence of using the game as a political stunt.
Pence flew to California after the game, according to NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard.
CNN reporter Kevin Liptak tweeted Sunday that the aircraft Pence takes can cost over $42,000 an hour to operate. According to his calculations, Pence’s trip could cost taxpayers upwards of $250,000.
Pence's stunt likely cost more than $250,000 at minimum. https://t.co/Y9E9LqvhPG
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 8, 2017
NBC’s Peter Alexander reported that Vice President Mike Pence’s press pool was ordered to wait outside Sunday’s NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers because the vice president had planned to leave early.
“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,” Alexander tweeted.
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
Several 49ers players kneeled during Sunday’s game, which allegedly prompted the vice president to leave the game early. Shortly after leaving the game, 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.”
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
President Trump later confirmed that the entire stunt was his idea: “I asked
@VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
“The vice president was just in Las Vegas speaking about the desire for unity in this country,” Alexander noted on MSNBC this afternoon. “Then he flew last night in Indianapolis with the sole purpose of going to this football game… where his team would be playing the San Francisco 49ers, the team where Colin Kaepernick obviously began this entire situation by taking a knee last season during the national anthem.”
“So, Pence went to the game, as soon as he saw someone take a knee, he left,” he continued. “And as we understand right now, he’s already on a plane in route to Los Angeles for a political fundraiser.”
“The president and the vice president had come up with a way that they believe is the best way to communicate this stand,” the NBC reporter remarked. “But it’s obviously a divisive issue, with many people insisting these players deserve their right to free expression.”
“Among the questions right now to be answered is, was this a political stunt as many people suggest?” Alexander added. “And the bottom line is, is the vice president as a government official allowed to use taxpayer money to fly into a place like Indiana for what many people view as a political stunt.”
Watch the video below from MSNBC.