To the Republican National Committee, President Obama’s recent travel in the last two days to three swing states is more than a coincidence. And now it has drawn formal complaint by the RNC into what it calls a “misuse of government funds” by the Obama campaign. Reince Priebus, the RNC’s chair, filed the formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office late Wednesday afternoon.
“Particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as ‘official events,’ thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his reelection efforts,” Priebus wrote in a letter to the GAO Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro.
“Given the recent excesses, waste, and abuse uncovered in the General Services Administration, the GAO should be particularly sensitive to misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
Priebus used Obama’s most recent travel to highlight the issue — a two-day, three-state swing … in three swing states. Obama traveled and spoke on the issue of student loans over the past two days in North Carolina, Colorado and, today, Iowa.
“Please note that President Obama traveled to three states largely considered to be electoral battlegrounds to promote this legislation,” Priebus wrote. “One might imagine that if this were genuinely a government event he might have stopped in a non-battleground state like Texas or Vermont.”
The Obama campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Here’s what campaign spokespeople told the New York Times for a story on the topic of Obama’s travel a few days ago:
Katie Hogan, a campaign spokeswoman, said, “The campaign will follow all rules and pay for the portion of travel that relates to political events, as has been true for previous incumbent presidential candidates.”
A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said, “As in other administrations, we follow all rules and regulations to ensure that the D.N.C. or other relevant political committee pays what is required for the president to travel to political events.”
Mark Knoller, the CBS White House correspondent well known for his tracking of the President’s travel, told the Times this:
Mr. Knoller’s count shows that since Mr. Obama took office, his most frequent destinations besides Maryland, Virginia and Illinois, his home state, have been fund-raising centres and swing states: New York (23 visits), Ohio (20), Florida (16), Pennsylvania (15), Michigan (11), California and North Carolina (10 each), Massachusetts (9), Wisconsin (8), Iowa and Nevada (7 each), and Colorado (6).
Obama’s campaign travel is nothing especially unprecedented. In the 2006 midterm elections, President Bush collected $166 million for fellow Republican candidates in fundraisers that were funded almost entirely by taxpayers. He took trips to 36 cities, according to that Associated Press story.
And according to this Brookings Institute study, President Bush made 56 per cent of trips in the first six months of 2004 to swing states. President Clinton visited swing states in 47 per cent of his trips.
You can read the full complaint below:
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