The stage, drapes, and sound system for an 18-minute speech by President Barack Obama cost taxpayers nearly $100,000.
"Elite Productions," the go-to company for prominent Democratic politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, put on the set for Obama’s speech to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 17. The company provided "stage, drapery, and audio/visual equipment," according to a contract document made public by the Air Force last week.
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The government paid the company $94,360 for a speech that lasted from 12:04 p.m. to 12:22 p.m., at a cost of approximately $5,242.22 per minute.
The Air Force justified the cost for the staging for Obama’s speech in the MacDill gymnasium due to "unusual and compelling urgency."
"Aside from Elite Productions Services, no other company is able to deliver the items required on the same day," the contract said.
"Market research was conducted to determine if others could provide these items and compete for this requirement," it added. "Three sources were contacted and communicated that they could not provide the requirement with such quick turnaround."
Obama has relied on Elite Productions heavily in the past. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, his 2012 reelection campaign paid the company $2,221,713.
Elite Productions provides staging, sound reinforcement, and lighting, according to the company’s website.
"We save you money and increase productivity, using our innovative strategy of proactive planning, continual monitoring, and quick response," the company said. "Don't leave your sound and lighting needs to chance. Go with the best … Elite Productions."
Elite Productions past clients include Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and the "post-grunge" band Puddle of Mudd. The company has also done events for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Obama for America, the Obama Victory Fund, and the Democratic National Committee.
The staging for Obama’s speech at MacDill featured a backdrop of blue drapes, and Air Force flags. During the speech to 1,200 service members, Obama ruled out ground troops in Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).