And President Obama, you’ll remember, got hit repeatedly in 2012 for mixing business with politics.
But as long as a politician proves there was official business on the trip, it’s completely legal to fit in some campaigning, too. Is it right? Maybe not. Is it normal? Absolutely.
We’re reminded of a lawsuit against the Carter White House in 1979 when Sen. Edward Kennedy’s labor supporters alleged that people in the administration were, among other things, using federal dollars for “travel expenses, costs of meetings and other political outlays.”
But even then such critiques were met with a yawn. “Such allegations have been made in connection with renomination or re-election campaigns of presidents down through history,” The Washington Post wrote at the time. The D.C. district court threw out the case for lack of standing.
D.C.-based lawyer Stanley Brand, who specializes in campaign law, had a similar reaction.
“This happens all the time,” he said. “It’s standard procedure because it’s logistically difficult to do any other way.”
There are perks to being a federal office holder running for president. The rub is that those same advantages also attract more scrutiny.