- President Donald Trump has sparked ethics concerns after he posted a video mocking New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2020 presidential campaign that appeared to be filmed on Air Force One.
- The presidential seal is in clear view during the video and taxpayers foot the bill for the cost of Air Force One trips, which a top political watchdog group said Trump should refund.
- Top administration officials have sparked numerous ethics concerns before, and Trump’s campaign for next year’s election could further muddy the waters between his activity as a candidate and president.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump posted a video last week to mock New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s newly launched presidential campaign.
Sitting aboard Air Force One with the presidential seal visible on a window cover, Trump said to the camera: “If you like high taxes and if you like crime, you can vote for him. But most people aren’t into that.”
The video is Trump’s latest incident to blur the lines between his campaign efforts and the resources available to him as president. Political ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted after the video was posted that it presented a possible campaig- finance violation.
“Nice political ad filmed on Air Force One,” the group said. “You now legally need to reimburse the Treasury for the use of Air Force One on a political trip. Since you had no problem tweeting out the video, you should have no problem tweeting out the receipts when you reimburse the taxpayers.”
Nice political ad filmed on Air Force One. You now legally need to reimburse the Treasury for the use of Air Force One on a political trip. Since you had no problem tweeting out the video, you should have no problem tweeting out the receipts when you reimburse the taxpayers. https://t.co/nMc80OmWLy
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) May 17, 2019
Business Insider previously reported that it costs about $US200,000 per hour to operate Air Force One for a presidential trip.
Trump tweeted the video Thursday evening while on his way to a fundraiser in New York.
Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause, told The Washington Post that Trump filming the video on Air Force One was “entirely inappropriate.”
“It is against historical norms for a president to be campaigning from Air Force One,” Ryan told The Post. “Most presidents have had enough respect for the office to try to separate campaigning from formal duties. Donald Trump is not such a president.”
The president’s time in office has marked an uptick in complaints about potential violations of the Hatch Act, which forbids executive branch officials from participating in certain political activities.
Though the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, a number of Trump’s associates, such as counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, have been investigated by the Office of Special Counsel.
“Senior administration has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, so they have gotten reprimands from the Office of Special Counsel, but they keep doing it over and over again,” Ryan said. “The problem is that the president doesn’t care about ethics laws.”