Boehner Calls on Obama Campaign to ‘Pony Up and Reimburse’ Taxpayers Air Force One Trips to Swing States

Fred Lucas | April 26, 2012 | 1:14pm EDT
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FILE - In this March 29, 2012 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner has finally endorsed Mitt Romney to be the Republican presidential nominee, saying his economic policies would help Americans find jobs. The Ohio Republican told reporters Tuesday that Romney’s proposals will offer a strong contrast with President Barack Obama’s failed efforts to revive the economy. Boehner said he will do all he can to help Romney win in November. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

( – House Speaker John Boener (R-Ohio) criticized President Barack Obama’s travel to swing states for what the White House calls official presidential business, and called on the campaign to reimburse the taxpayers.

“Presidents have the ability to use Air Force One and all the tools of the federal government to do official business, and when you look at almost all of the presidents, they find official business to do along with their campaigning,” Boehner said. “But this one does not pass the straight face test. You know it, and I know it. So it’s time for the Obama campaign to pony up and reimburse” taxpayers.

Boehner made the comment Thursday - one day after the Republican National Committee filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office accusing the Obama reelection campaign, or Obama for America, of misusing tax dollars for the president’s reelection.

“Obama for America has been cheating the American taxpayer by using taxpayer dollars to fund their general election efforts,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The president, who has held more campaign events in 3.5 years than any other president did in their full term, should refund the taxpayers for the cost of these trips through his campaign account Obama for America.”

Just this week, Obama took official presidential visits to the campuses of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Iowa in Iowa City. All of these are key swing states in the 2012 presidential race.

“One might imagine that if this were genuinely a government event he might have stopped in a non-battleground state like Texas or Vermont,” the letter from Priebus to the GAO said. “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.”

The Wall Street Journal reported last November that Obama’s swing state travel far surpassed that of President George W. Bush.

The White House has dismissed past questions and criticism of Obama’s travel to swing states for official speeches.

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“I would point out, as I did yesterday, that the president was recently delivering remarks in Oklahoma, and while hope springs eternal, I am not prepared at this moment to call that a battleground state,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week when pressed by reporters on the travel to battleground states.

Carney defended the trips to the swing states.

“It is simply not something we accept that the president should not be able to travel all around the country, should not be able to travel to talk about his agenda with the American people that he represents,” Carney said. “And if you took seriously, all the maps that show states that are battleground states, and therefore would be somehow inappropriate for an incumbent president to visit in a reelection year, he would be severely restricting his ability to go to great big parts of the country.”

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