Skin in the game?
From the Washington Examiner:
President Obama spent more than $1.45 million on his first two official state dinners, according to White House financial documents obtained by The Washington Examiner.
The White House Executive Residence sent two invoices to the State Department’s Office of Protocol, seeking reimbursement for the White House dinners honoring visiting Indian and Mexican heads of state.
Both invoices can be viewed following this news story.
The October 2009 Indian dinner cost $487,168.86 or $1,485 per person, according to the invoices. The May 2010 Mexican dinner price tag was $969,793.92 and was attended by 200 people at a cost of $4,770 each.
The Washington Examiner first reported on Oct. 25, 2012, that White House spending on state dinners has skyrocketed under Obama.
Both invoices are simply titled “Bill for Collection” and seek State Department reimbursement. Costs of White House social events involving foreign dignitaries are covered in the State Department’s budget.
The actual costs of the two events was not revealed by White House officials to Congress out of concern for “protocol considerations,” according to a 2010 expense report obtained by the Examiner. The White House is required to submit the report annually to Congress.
[…]White House officials had a massive pavilion constructed on the South Lawn that took five days to build. The temporary structure included a fully heated concert hall with adjacent satellite kitchens and a dozen hanging chandeliers to make it seem like “a magical secret garden,” reported Vanity Fair.
The Obamas rejected Cristeta Comerford, their regular White House chef and a holdover from the Bush term, preferring to import Marcus Samuelsson, a celebrity chef from New York’s trendy Aquavit restaurant.
Vanity Fair estimated that the pavilion cost as much as $250,000. The White House invoice shows the Indian dinner’s total cost was $487,000.
In May 2010, White House officials again transformed the South Lawn, this time into an elaborate nightclub to welcome former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The dinner featured a private concert by pop star Beyonce.