Vice President Mike Pence’s staged walkout during an NFL game at which players kneeled during the national anthem cost the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department more than $14,000, records show.
Pence and his wife, Karen, left the Oct. 8 game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers within minutes of their arrival, after roughly 20 49ers players kneeled in protest of police brutality against blacks.
“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 after the stunt.
A White House staffer had advised reporters following Pence to stay in their vehicles, warning of a possible “early departure from the game.”
Trump chimed in on Twitter, claiming he had told the Vice President to prepare for a boycott.
“I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen,” Trump tweeted.
Documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) show that the cost of the stunt to local police was $14,163.36. Expenses included paying for emergency response and SWAT teams, and were in addition to the $242,500 it cost Pence to fly from Las Vegas, NV, to Indianapolis, IN, and then to Los Angeles, CA, for a fundraiser he attended after the game.
“The tone is set at the top when it comes to this administration’s disregard for ethics,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Vice President Pence should know better than to use taxpayer money to make a rhetorical point, but carelessness with taxpayer money seems to be a common theme with senior administration officials,” Bookbinder said.
“At a time when the administration is proposing massive budge cuts for the federal government, it is especially inappropriate to use taxpayer dollars for a political publicity stunt,” he added.
Questions were raised about inappropriate spending on air travel by government officials when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used a government plane to view the solar eclipse from Fort Knox.
CREW has requested an investigation into the use of taxpayer funds for private air travel by government officials.
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