Presidential Fundraising Trips Leave Taxpayers With Hefty Tab
President Obama left Tuesday for a two-day fundraising tour in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The Democratic National Committee is expected to pick up part of the cost, but if history is any gauge, taxpayers will pick up most of the tab.
But when the president hit the road Tuesday for a two-day fundraising tour to pack the party coffers, he also was racking up a $265,000 partisan bill for just one leg of the trip, according to a watchdog group — part of which taxpayers, regardless of party affiliation, will have to pay.
Obama started out in Las Vegas, where he stumped that night for state Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. On Wednesday night he was to attend a two-tiered donor dinner for the Democratic Party in Los Angeles.
But sandwiched between political appearances, Obama squeezed in some quick public remarks on energy, ironically before burning fuel to Los Angeles, at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base. It was a key stop, because it gives the entire trip an air of official legitimacy and allows the White House to write off part of the trip under rules governing travel, said Pete Sepp, vice president for policy and communications at the National Taxpayers Union.
“You’ve got to have some official (business) in the trip somewhere. It becomes almost a game to find some official function to hang the trip on,” Sepp said.
Allow me to criticize the Bush administration, too:
But reimbursement for political activities involves a tricky formula, and actual reimbursements typically come nowhere close to compensating the government for the cost of such trips. Secret Service costs, for one, are always footed by the government.
A 2006 report for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that during 2002, political campaigns reimbursed the federal government for $198,000 of the $6.5 million in flight expenses racked up by campaign-related stops made by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. That’s 3 percent of the total cost.
Taxpayers paid the remaining $6.3 million.
Who’s picking up the tab?
Need I ask?