By now, you’ve probably heard that Vice President Mike Pence went to a football game on Sunday. To be exact, he went to the 49ers-Colts game in Indianapolis (Pence used to be the governor of Indiana). You’ve probably also heard that Pence’s football outing ended with him walking out of the stadium when he saw members of the 49ers kneeling during the National Anthem.
The Indianapolis Colts, the hometown team, didn’t kneel—they stood, linking arms. And the 49ers who kneeled were protesting police brutality, exercising their rights to freedom of expression. But that wasn’t good enough for Pence, who left the game immediately and spoke to reporters that he had called about how he wasn’t happy about people using freedom of speech in a way that was distasteful to him.
Now, people have begun to scrutinize Pence’s trip to Indianapolis. NPR reports on allegations from multiple media outlets (and politicians) that Pence’s obvious political stunt was, in fact, a political stunt. The fact that Pence alerted members of the media before the game that he would walk out suggests (read: clearly declares) that his exit was premeditated.
Adding on to that, the Indy Star notes that Pence’s reaction is in stark contrast to his previous reactions to protests. Usually, Pence mumbles something about how the first amendment and freedom of expression are vital to the nation. This time, he forgot about the first amendment. This could be because Pence walking out wasn’t something he came up with on his own, but something that he was ordered to do by his boss.
And then there’s the fact that this trip to Indianapolis took time out of Pence’s schedule, which had him visiting the West Coast. That’s right: The Atlantic points out that Pence flew to Indianapolis from California just for this game, and then flew back to California the next day. The White House claimed Pence was flying to Washington, D.C. for the evening anyway … which would still be a huge waste of taxpayer money, as Pence still had to be back in California the next day.
relays that the flight to Indianapolis alone cost over $200,000. This, of course, doesn’t include the cost of salaries and hotel rooms for Pence’s whole entourage, nor does it include the enhanced police presence at the game for Pence’s security. All told, some estimate that Pence spent $240,000 of taxpayer money to attend a football game for about 10 minutes. $240,000 is more than most Americans make in two years. Pence spent it in one day so that he could spite a group of people exercising their first amendment rights.