Republicans challenge Obama travel costs

Rick Moran
The president has been jetting around from swing state to swing state, holding fundraisers and campaign rallies - clearly partisan political activities.

Did I mention you're paying for it?

Republicans have decided to challenge the president's extensive political travel.

CNN:

President Barack Obama isn't just playing politics - he may be committing fraud on the taxpayer's dime, the Republican National Committee charged on Wednesday.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the committee requested an investigation into Obama's recent travel - including trips this week to Iowa and North Carolina - alleging those trips were more political than official.

The White House and Obama For America, the president's reelection campaign, go to great lengths to distinguish between official and campaign activities, as do elected officials and their reelection efforts at various levels of government.

But Obama's recent speeches, the RNC said in the letter, were "events widely reported to be equivalent to campaign rallies." The committee's case sees supporting evidence in a list of the states Obama has visited this month, including the general election battlegrounds of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio.

It's a blurry line, to some extent.

"This speech was high on class warfare, slogans, and divisive campaign-style rhetoric," the letter said of a recent official event earlier this month in Florida.

When candidates travel by government means - such as a president traveling by Air Force One to a campaign event - Federal Election Commission regulations require the campaign to reimburse the government at a market rate. Typically, this means campaigns pay the cost of first-class airfare for the candidate and any campaign staffers. Travel by Air Force One - which costs over $180,000 per hour - is much more expensive than the price tag for commercial seats.

Obama held 69 fundraisers from the beginning of 2011 to December 1 of that year, far more than either Bush or any of his 4 other immediate predecessors. He averaged a fundraiser once every 5 days, according to Mother Jones. If anything, the pace has picked up in 2012.

Both the FEC and the GAO are likely to give Obama a pass. The regulations are poorly drawn so that a president can claim just about anything as "official business."

That said, this is a good political move by the RNC to highlight the president's travels outside of Washington where he invariably criticizes the opposition for not doing anything, despite the ironic fact that he himself spends far too much time outside of Washington to get anything done.

The president has been jetting around from swing state to swing state, holding fundraisers and campaign rallies - clearly partisan political activities.

Did I mention you're paying for it?

Republicans have decided to challenge the president's extensive political travel.

CNN:

President Barack Obama isn't just playing politics - he may be committing fraud on the taxpayer's dime, the Republican National Committee charged on Wednesday.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the committee requested an investigation into Obama's recent travel - including trips this week to Iowa and North Carolina - alleging those trips were more political than official.

The White House and Obama For America, the president's reelection campaign, go to great lengths to distinguish between official and campaign activities, as do elected officials and their reelection efforts at various levels of government.

But Obama's recent speeches, the RNC said in the letter, were "events widely reported to be equivalent to campaign rallies." The committee's case sees supporting evidence in a list of the states Obama has visited this month, including the general election battlegrounds of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio.

It's a blurry line, to some extent.

"This speech was high on class warfare, slogans, and divisive campaign-style rhetoric," the letter said of a recent official event earlier this month in Florida.

When candidates travel by government means - such as a president traveling by Air Force One to a campaign event - Federal Election Commission regulations require the campaign to reimburse the government at a market rate. Typically, this means campaigns pay the cost of first-class airfare for the candidate and any campaign staffers. Travel by Air Force One - which costs over $180,000 per hour - is much more expensive than the price tag for commercial seats.

Obama held 69 fundraisers from the beginning of 2011 to December 1 of that year, far more than either Bush or any of his 4 other immediate predecessors. He averaged a fundraiser once every 5 days, according to Mother Jones. If anything, the pace has picked up in 2012.

Both the FEC and the GAO are likely to give Obama a pass. The regulations are poorly drawn so that a president can claim just about anything as "official business."

That said, this is a good political move by the RNC to highlight the president's travels outside of Washington where he invariably criticizes the opposition for not doing anything, despite the ironic fact that he himself spends far too much time outside of Washington to get anything done.