WASHINGTON — The Maryland-based owner of the Kailua estate where the first family has stayed each December since 2008 says that the Obamas are not renting the so-called Winter White House this year.
“They’re not staying at my house,” Glenn Weinberg told Civil Beat on Thursday. “If they’re staying somewhere else, I don’t know.”
A White House spokesman would not offer information on how lodging arrangements for the president are made, and simply said that the first family “is looking forward to returning to Hawaii to spend the holidays with family and friends.”
A Civil Beat investigation earlier this year found that the Obamas’ two-week rental of the three-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath home in 2010 was illegal under a longstanding Honolulu ban on short-term rentals.
Obama didn’t break the law by staying at the house but Weinberg could have been subject to fines. (A related Civil Beat investigation uncovered a wide gap between illegal rentals and city enforcement.)
In January, the city’s Planning and Permitting director sent a letter to Weinberg to remind him that short-term rentals are not permitted at the Winter White House. City Council Chairman Ernie Martin suggested at the time that the Obamas stay on the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe instead.
“They pay for their own vacations, as they have done in the past,” White House spokesman Adam Abrams told Civil Beat.
The first family is scheduled to leave for Hawaii on Dec. 17 and return to Washington on Jan. 2. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the president told Democratic leadership this week that he would stay in Washington to resolve business related to an extension of the payroll tax, and join his family in Hawaii later.
“Michelle and the girls are going to have a great time in Hawaii, they don’t need me there,” Reid paraphrased Obama as having said.
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