He’s logged more flight hours than Sully Sullenberger:
President Obama jets to Florida today for a mix of official and political business that will steal some headlines in the Sunshine State and line his campaign coffers with at least $4 million.
The act of presidential piggybacking — coupling official duties, in this case a speech on the economy, with political fundraising — was not pioneered by Obama but is prominently on display this year.
Obama has taken four trips outside Washington, D.C., since Jan. 1, including 18 re-election fundraisers interspersed with various activities related to his duties as president. Most recently, Obama concluded a three-day, three-state swing when he attended eight fundraisers and two official events.
The president’s jet-setting has drawn the usual criticisms from his political opponents but also raised the curiosity and questions from taxpayers about who bears the sky-high costs.
As a rule of thumb, an incumbent president’s campaign is expected to reimburse the government the cost of a first class commercial airline ticket for each person riding Air Force One to or from a political event, campaign finance experts say.
But that amount doesn’t come close to covering the proportional operating cost of Air Force One, or the army of Secret Service agents, White House advance teams, the fleet of Air Force cargo planes transporting the presidential motorcade or the helicopters that often ferry the president from an airport to a remote site.
Air Force One – known in the military as VC-25 – costs $179,750 per flight hour alone in fiscal year 2012, Maj. Michelle Lai of the 89th Airlift Wing told ABC News.
His three-day, three-state swing that included two official events and eight fundraisers, netting more than $8 million last week, incurred flight costs of $2.1 million, based on the Air Force figure and flight times gathered from press pool reports.
As for how the proportion of that bill is broken down for Obama campaign to pay, experts say the law is murky and the practice of reimbursement somewhat “on your honor.”
That’s it, we’re [bleeped].
After a speech on his 2013 budget proposal at the University of Miami, Obama will attend three fundraisers for his re-election campaign.
He’ll attend a reception with 450 supporters at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, where DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Bill Nelson would also join, and singer Deborah Cox will perform. General admission tickets were $1,000 apiece, a campaign official said.
Then Obama will hobnob at a private residence in Coral Gables with 100 donors, who each paid at least $15,000 for a chance to meet the president.
Obama will fly Air Force One from Miami to Orlando for his third event of the evening, at the Windermere home of NBA star Vince Carter. Each of the 70 guests cut a check of $30,000, according to the Obama campaign.
All proceeds benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account of the Democratic National Committee and president’s campaign.
I count over $5 million in campaign appearances for one lousy speech (and I do mean lousy). And how much golf will he fit in, I wonder? Plenty, I hope, since we’re paying for it.
Sorry! Mum’s the word!