Leaving no potential avenue of attack unexplored, the Republican National Committee has decided to bash Barack Obama over his October visit to see his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.
Of course the visit itself is not being criticized, but rather the way the campaign paid for the nominee's unscheduled detour. On Monday afternoon, the RNC blasted out a complaint from the California Republican Party charging that "Obama for America violated federal law by converting its campaign funds to Senator Obama's personal use" for the trip. That proposed issue for the FEC to investigate is one of five violations alleged by California Republicans in their complaint (which you can read in its entirety here).
"Senator Obama recently traveled to Hawaii to visit his sick grandmother. This was the right thing for any grandson to do -- at his own expense -- but it was not travel that his campaign may fund," said California Republican Chairman Ron Nehring in a statement Monday.
"In Senator Obama's own words, his travels took him 'off the [campaign] trail for a day.' The trip featured no campaign events of any kind its 22-hour duration and his decision to travel was 'not driven by political concerns,' according to an Obama spokesperson. Since the trip's purpose was entirely and admittedly personal, the fact that he made campaign telephone calls and talked with staff aides while traveling does not convert this purely personal trip into a proper campaign expense. Therefore, the Obama Campaign violated the FEC's ban on 'personal use' of campaign funds when it paid over $100,000 for the Campaign's charter to fly to Hawaii without obtaining reimbursement from Senator Obama."
"To be clear, the California Republican Party respects Senator Obama's decision to leave the campaign trail for a worthwhile personal purpose. But the Party will not quietly let 'hard facts make bad law.' If the FEC fails to act here, it will-contrary to explicit provisions of federal law-allow personal travel to Hawaii at campaign expense: a loophole sure to be exploited by others for less commendable personal purposes. Sympathy must not cloud the simple truth. This trip was personally important to Senator Obama, but served no campaign purpose. Its costs should have been paid with Senator Obama's own funds," Nehring said.
Asked for comment, an Obama spokesman gave no response.
Beside the Hawaii complaint, the state GOP also raises another allegation against the Democratic nominee based on testimony from a Pennsylvania case involving ACORN. In that testimony, a former employee of an ACORN affiliate alleged that the Obama campaign transfered its donor list to the community organizing group -- a claim disputed by ACORN itself. The California GOP, however, treats the matter as settled fact.
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