More than 114,000 people have signed a petition to withhold President Barack Obama’s pay while he campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The author of the petition, Rick Mitchelson, says he created the petition out of frustration that a sitting president is using taxpayer funds to push a liberal agenda.
The fact that the “most divisive” president in history would “spend taxpayer money in order to maintain his own legacy was frustrating to me,” Mitchelson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Obama plans to devote one or two days each week in October to campaign for Hillary, an unnamed Clinton adviser told Bloomberg News.
The petition has gained more than 73,000 signatures in the 10 days since TheDCNF first wrote about it Sept. 21. (RELATED: 41,000 Ask Congress To Stop Paying Obama While He Campaigns For Hillary)
“When a lame duck President reaches his last few months in office he often endorses a candidate from his party to secede him,” Mitchelson’s petition says. “Rarely however, does that same lame duck President spend weeks or even months prior to the November election actively campaigning for his successor.”
Mitchelson, a high school social studies teacher in Wyoming, wrote the petition during the summer (“I shouldn’t tell you this, but I was supposed to be teaching summer school while I wrote it,” Mitchelson said), then discovered conservative petition site StandUnited on Facebook.
As the legislative body with “sole authority of Federal revenue,” Congress could dock a president’s pay, Mitchelson’s petition argues. However, in order to withhold the president’s salary Congress would have to address Article II of the U.S. Constitution which says that a president’s compensation “shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected.”
Mitchelson said he knew about the section that prevents Congress from changing a president’s pay during his term. “When I wrote [the petition], I knew it was a stretch.” Perhaps Congress could withhold the president’s $33,333 monthly paycheck until after the November 8 election. Or at the very least, “maybe [Congress] could pass some legislation that would prevent that in the future,” Mitchelson said.
In addition to the $400,000 annual salary, the president has an expense account of $50,000 for costs “resulting from the discharge of his official duties.” Plus, Air Force One costs $180,000 for every hour of flight, which means campaign stops for Hillary Clinton are costing the taxpayers a pretty penny. (RELATED: Obama And Hillary Are Flying To Campaign Stops On Air Force One, And You’re Paying For It)
On the other hand, Obama could find ways to justify campaign stops. “Obama could actually say, I need to see so-and-so in Ohio, and campaign at the same time. It’s all fuzzy math,” Mitchelson said.
The petition notes that a president’s salary is about $400,000 a year, and that Air Force One costs $180,000 for every hour of flight. The president also has an expense account of $50,000 for costs “resulting from the discharge of his official duties.”
The response to the petition surprises Mitchelson, indicating that many share his frustration. “I must have touched a little nerve,” Mitchelson said.