Question about the legality of using government transportation for campaign purposes.

If I recall correctly, you’re not even allowed to make a campaign call on a government phone, so since virtually everything George W. Bush will be doing for the next two months is campaigning is it illegal, or even an ethics violation, for him to travel on government aircraft?

It seems to me that it should be, since he will be using government resources to campaign it is at least the ethical equivalent of making a call.

If I’m wrong on this, this will be a good opportunity for me to learn, because I simply don’t have any idea.

The President has to travel in the secure manner provided by the Secret Service, such as AF One, various special cars and limousines etc. When this is on a political campaign trip the RNC reimburses the government. I don’t think they pay the whole cost. I.e. there are Secret Service agents with him or her all the time out in public anyway so that’s not really a campaign cost.

And on a lot of these campaign junkets they will do something else on the side so that they can claim it was government business and not have to pay a dime.

IIRC, the reimbursement idea got started under Reagan. There had been some complaints, so the RNC started paying part of the cost of the trip. But I think Reeder is mistaken here. If there is any campaigning, then the Party is on the hook for some of the cost. I could be mistaken, but I don’t think so.

This is one of the biggest imbalances between the “ins” and the “outs.” Bush only has to pay standard airfare back to the Treasury. Kerry has to shell out big bucks for a charter plane. Bush also gets to call which speeches are “presidential” and which are “campaign”. So this year the Dems complain and the GOP says they’re going by the rules. In 1996 it was the other way around. It’s just like the Lincoln bedroom “scandal.” (Except you haven’t heard about it’s use lately, have you? What a surprise!)

I’m pretty sure in a case like that, it’s pro rata. The government will say something like (for example) 72% of the trip was for business and 28% for campaigning, and charge them 28% of the total.

And looking at “The White House Staff” by Bradley Patterson (good book by the way), I see that’s the case. The White House counsel and political affairs staff decide what portion of the trip is political, then the campaign is charged for that. The book also says: (I’ve changed the formatting and snipped a lot.)