During the height of President Trump’s culture war with the NFL, Mike Pence staged a walkout during an NFL game when players kneeled during the National Anthem. The stunt cost the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department over $14,000.
“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 his fabricated display of “patriotism.”
And Trump weighed in too, saying that it was his request. “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen,” Trump tweeted.
But it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. A White House staffer advised reporters to stay in their vehicles because Pence would make an “early departure from the game.” He ended up leaving before the game even started.
Now, documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reveal that the stunt cost local police $14,163.36. Costs include emergency response and SWAT teams. This is in addition to the $242,500 it cost to fly Pence from Las Vegas to Indianapolis and then to Los Angeles, where he attended a fundraiser 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 budget cuts for the federal government, it is especially inappropriate to use taxpayer dollars for a political publicity stunt,” he added.
Pence could have easily tweeted that he wouldn’t attend a football game while players were protesting during the national anthem. Instead, he wasted a quarter million dollars of taxpayer money for a 30-second stunt that did nothing but stroke his boss’s ego.