WASHINGTON -- With President Barack Obama pitching legislative proposals at campaign-style events, almost exclusively in swing states important in November's presidential election, Republican groans have become notably louder, complaining he's using taxpayer funds to pitch his re-election.
The Republican National Committee on Wednesday turned the groans into action, filing a complaint with the Government Accountability Office requesting a "formal inquiry into whether this pattern constitutes fraud."
Complaints that presidents blend official and campaign travel are routine. George W. Bush encountered the same when he was running for re-election in 2004. The White House and Obama's campaign insist that they are in compliance with the law. The campaign (and Democratic National Committee) cover the cost of the president's campaign travel. But Obama has, clearly, spent a lot of recent time in that legal or political gray area.
CBS's Mark Knoller, who keeps detailed notes on Obama's travels, recently told The New York Times that since the president filed for re-election, he's taken 60 domestic trips and 26 of them involved fundraisers.
According to Knoller, Obama has visited Ohio 20 times, Florida 16 times, Pennsylvania 15 times, Michigan 11 times, and North Carolina 10 times. Those are all swing states. In addition, Obama has visited New York 23 times and California 10 times -– each, ostensibly, to raise campaign funds.
UPDATE: 6:11 p.m. -- White House spokesman Eric Schultz responds to the RNC complaint:
“This week’s travel has been part of the president’s official responsibility to get outside of Washington, D.C., hear from students, and discuss stopping interest rates on their loans from doubling in July -– just like Friday’s trip to Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia, to meet with troops, veterans, and military families is likewise part of the president’s official responsibilities. When there is political travel, we follow all rules and regulations that all other administrations have followed.”
Hat Tip: BuzzFeed