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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A conservative watchdog group has filed suit in Federal court in an effort to obtain records on the costs of President Obama's vacations in Hawaii.
The group Judicial Watch said it filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. Secret Service. The suit seeks "all records concerning use of U.S. Government funds to provide security and/or other services to President Obama and any companions on their January 1 and 2, 2013, trip to Honolulu, Hawaii."
According to the group, the total cost to taxpayers of the president's vacations in Hawaii is likely to exceed $20 million. Part of that estimated cost is the $1 million price tag for Air Force One to make the round trip between Honolulu and Washington.
"If it's paid for by the government, yes, I think it does matter," said Misty Elsasser, a frequent island visitor from California. "If it's his vacation and he's paying for it, fine, I couldn't care less. If I'm paying for him to have a vacation somewhere, yeah, I kinda care how much I'm paying."
Judicial Watch has been critical of the First Family's vacations, saying the Obamas have "an opulent vacation lifestyle." At least one mainland visitor who has a relative here said it's not so much the cost that concerns her.
"What I think we should care about is the local people who live in Hawaii, and their daily routines and what they do on a daily basis that is affected when President Obama comes to visit," said Christina Amaya, who's here for her brother's college graduation.
Records show that President Obama spent 131 vacation days during his first term. President George H.W. Bush spent 543 vacation days during his eight years in office.
There's also some criticism that President Obama comes here to Hawaii, far from Washington. Nearly everyone we spoke with didn't mind that.
"I think it's great that he's coming back home, this is where he's from, this is what he wants to do," said Elsasser. "But if we're paying for it, then I think we need to know and I think that does matter."