When President Barack Obama takes Air Force One on a fundraising swing, he is required under the law to reimburse taxpayers for certain travel expenses.
But as Mark Knoller of CBS News reports, the White House has made it a practice of not publicly releasing specific reimbursement figures, making it impossible for the public to see exactly how much they pay every time the president goes on a political trip.
Knoller says it’s not about national security reasons, but rather about saving face.
“Very simply, the White House doesn’t want to disclose the material because it might be embarrassing and would draw lots of criticism, which Mr. Obama can do without,” Knoller reports.
Obama isn’t the only president to not release the figures. Previous White Houses have also refused to give a specific breakdown.
“As in other administrations, we follow all rules and regulations to ensure that the DNC or other relevant political committee pays what is required for the president to travel to political events,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told CBS News.
In a Congressional Research Service report, “Presidential Travel: Policy and Costs,” the agency says: “When a trip is for political or unofficial purposes, those involved must pay for their own food and lodging and other related expenses, and they must also reimburse the government with the equivalent of the airfare that they would have paid had they used a commercial airline.”
One way presidents get around having to pay for an entire fundraising trip out of their pockets is to add an official appearance during the swing, a routine practice of recent presidents.
As CBS reports, Obama starts a three-day fundraising swing in California this week, which begins with an official event in Santa Monica.