The Republican National Committee has requested the Government Accountability Office to investigate Obama's recent campaign stops and stump speeches which are not being reimbursed by Obama's reelection campaign funds but instead is being funded by taxpayers.
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.
Such scheduling allows "his reelection campaign to save on fuel for Air Force One," the letter said. The government picks up an even greater share of the total tab for a trip combining both campaign and official events.
White House Spokesman Eric Schultz denies the Republican's allegations by claiming these trips to these battleground states, which include the stumps speeches and reelection rhetoric from Obama, are "the President’s official responsibility to get outside of Washington, DC, 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."
That explanation and denial is being mocked by even the most liberal of media personalities, such as MSNBC's Mike O'Brien and Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam Stein.
How much longer do we have to pretend that these POTUS events aren't campaign events? Not that there's anything wrong with campaigning.— Mike O'Brien (@mpoindc) April 25, 2012
.@mpoindc seriously. this is campaigning. just call it that. it's not that dirty of a word— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) April 25, 2012
RNC letter embedded below:
[Update] Andrew Malcolm attempts to overcome laughter to announce that "Obama will begin to campaign next week, aide says with straight face." Sorry Andrew, still laughing here!!!