Mixing Fundraising and Policy
When presidents travel, the taxpayers pick up the lion's share of the cost. And with the cost of Air Force One averaging around $57,000 per hour, not to mention elaborate security arrangements, even a lion might blush at the cost of a single trip.
Still, that's as it should be. The president is conducting the business of the country, right? Well, not always.
Take, for example, the president's intense summer travel schedule, helping to raise money for Republican candidates at various events. By adding official policy speeches to the trips, the White House has been able to have the government (read: taxpayer) pick up a big chunk of the cost.
In fact, between his inauguration and the end of last month, the president has traveled out of town 36 times on political business, bringing in over $100 million for the GOP.
There's nothing new about this. The Clinton administration was criticized not only for allowing big donors to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, but also for scheduling fundraising trips on Air Force One at taxpayer expense.
Stronger rules are needed so that taxpayers don't shoulder the cost of helping promote one party over another.