The Republican National Committee filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office Wednesday, accusing the Obama administration of using taxpayer funds to campaign on President Obama's recent trip to three swing states, despite White House claims President Obama was giving speeches at official events.
"Throughout his administration, but particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as "official events," thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his reelection efforts," the complaint letter by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus read.
The president gave speeches on college campuses in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa in front of large crowds of students in which he called on Congress to prevent a hike in federal student loan interest rates. The RNC noted the location of the speeches, the large boisterous crowds and some of the president's recent rhetoric in its complaint, saying they created a campaign-like atmosphere.
"The most recent example of such misuse came yesterday in North Carolina and Colorado. President Obama traveled to the two states at taxpayer expense to deliver speeches to cheering crowds of college students, events widely reported to be equivalent to campaign rallies," the letter read. "The same can be said of the president's trip to Florida two weeks ago. President Obama scheduled three fundraisers in the state and added one short "official event" on his Buffett Tax to his itinerary, once again allowing his reelection campaign to save on fuel for Air Force One."
A White House spokesman stresses the administration complies with all rules regulating presidential travel and campaigning. He also points to a planned trip later this week to meet with military members in Georgia--a consistently Republican-voting state-as proof election politics don't play into the president's official schedule.
"This week's travel has been part of the president's official responsibility to get outside of Washington, D.C., 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," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an email to Fox News. "When there is political travel, we follow all rules and regulations that all other administrations have followed."
Sitting presidents are not allowed to use federal resources for campaign travel unless their campaigns reimburse the federal government for their use. Previous presidents have also faced criticism that their campaign and official travel crossed paths too often.