Donald Trump

On Taxpayer-Funded Trip, Trump Says: 'Vote Republican'

He isn't the first president to do something like this. But it would be nice if he'd be the last.

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BILL GREENBLATT/UPI/Newscom

There were no campaign events scheduled on President Donald Trump's taxpayer-funded trip to Illinois on Thursday, but he still implored voters to support Republican candidates for office.

"You've got to vote Republican, folks, you've got to vote Republican," he said during a visit to a steel mill in Granite City, Illinois, according to The Washington Post. Three Republican representatives—Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)—were on hand at the event. Bost and Davis are both facing tough re-election fights, so Trump was likely referring to them when he said, "Vote for these two congressmen; they know what we're doing. They know what they're doing. They're tough, and they're smart."

It wasn't the first time this week that Trump used an official trip to talk politics. Addressing the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars—as is customary for U.S. presidents—in Kansas City, Missouri, Trump on Tuesday expressed his support for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican running for Senate.

Following Trump's speech in Illinois, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley was asked why it's OK for Trump to be making political endorsement on "a government-paid event, official government business trip." Gidley replied that there's "no legal prohibition for that to occur."

Trump is not the first president to mix politics with official business. As The New York Times noted in 2012, controversy over this practice has risen up many times over the years:

President George Bush made more political trips "than any president in history" before the 1990 midterm elections, The Los Angeles Times wrote, and "by mixing official and political travel" passed much of the cost to taxpayers. Bill Clinton, newly re-elected, "may well have set a record for political travel" in 1997 as he flew to fund-raisers to erase Democrats' debt, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Prior to the 1982 midterms, then-President Ronald Reagan said during an official visit to Ohio that he would like to heap praise on several Republican candidates present—but "this isn't a political rally, so I won't say any of those things."

When presidents travel to explicitly political events on Air Force One, they have to pay the federal government back. Not so in cases like these. This may not be illegal, but that doesn't make it right. Presidents should learn to keep governing and campaigning separate when they're using the taxpayers' money.

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51 responses to “On Taxpayer-Funded Trip, Trump Says: 'Vote Republican'

  1. Gidley was asked why it’s OK for Trump to be making political endorsement on “a government-paid event, official government business trip.” Gidley replied that there’s “no legal prohibition for that to occur.”

    The Hatch Act applies only to “nonessential employees”.

    1. Is that an improvement from the last time you polled the commentariat about how many believe Citizen Crusty is Weigel?

  2. Prediction: there are going to be a lot of cries of “whataboutism” here

      1. There you go owning the libs again by pouncing.

        Speaking of which, I’m glad democracy isn’t dying in darkness.

      2. “Trump criticized Obama for this same practice”

        “Whataboutism!”

        It is the dumbest word in our zeitgeist

        1. That’s just because inequality is taking a rest.

        2. “Trump criticized Obama for this same practice”

          “Obama criticized Bush for this same practice”

          “Bush criticized Clinton for this same practice”

          And Reason? Reason criticized Trump.

      3. During his trip to Scotland last month, Trump went to great lengths to repeatedly state that federal law requires his campaign to pay for everything, even if it’s the use of a conference room in Trump Towers, which he said he would gladly let his campaign use for free.

        “I’m forced, you know, legally, I have to pay myself back,” he said. “If I use one of my resorts in the United States and we have a press conference or something, by law I have to pay myself back.”

        “[B]y law I have to pay myself back”. And there you have it, Trump makes no distinction between Donald Trump, Trump Enterprises, and Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. (And apparently the Trump Foundation, Trump University and any number of other Trump scams businesses. “I” don’t have to pay “myself” back, Trump Enterprises cannot legally donate to the Trump campaign, and free use of their facilities would be a campaign donation. But what Trump Enterprises charges doesn’t come out of Trump’s pocket, it comes out of the Trump For President campaign fund, so there’s no “paying it back”. Sure, Trump Enterprises pays Trump’s salary and his salary is whatever he wants it to be so Trump could “donate” part of his Trump Enterprises income to his campaign, but I think most people are more aware than Trump that all this money isn’t “his” in a legal sense.

        1. Hey man, congrats on waking up from your eight year slumber.

        2. Just take the cost out of Trump’s salary.

    1. Is there anyone who’s going to pretend that this is anything other than Standard Operating Procedure?

  3. every trip every president makes is political get over it its there f ing job

  4. as long as he didn’t say it on twitter, I think I can keep my outrage in check

    1. Especially if he used ALL CAPS in his tweet; that would be beyond the pale.

      1. ALL CAPS? *swoons*

  5. I am reminded that all the local politicans manage to stick their names on everything. The County Precinct has a bus, for some reason. On the side is County Precinct 1, Commissioner Joe Blow.

    It seems that when there is a new commissioner, they just paint over the last one. The name is in the wrong font…

    1. There was a local county commissioner a few years ago in my area who plastered her picture on every door of every entrance of every county building.

      And yes, she ended up getting busted and run out of office for corruption and misuse of public funds.

  6. Why do people continue to think Trump is the golden ideal of a Conservative Republican?

    Presidents should learn to keep governing and campaigning separate when they’re using the taxpayers’ money.

    That isn’t even possible. The act of doing one is also doing the other, whether one intends it to be or not. They are inseparably connected.

  7. Joe, I mean Presidential security costs money. Presidents tend to be the head of their political party and campaign during their presidency.

    Presidents also need vacations like everyone else. I hate Obama but the guy needed vacations and he chose Hawaii. Boosh chose Texas.

    Should politicians keep government expenses down? Yes.

    Social Security is where the huge waste is. Medicare is where the huge waste is. Military budget is where the yuge waste is.

    I always wondered why Reason does not blast Social Security, Military, and Medicare budgets daily like Immigration, TDS, and how great Hillary is covered.

    1. “I hate Obama but the guy needed vacations and he chose Hawaii and Africa. Boosh chose Texas.” FTFY hehehe

      Camp David must need to be renovated. I miss the photo ops with Obama shooting a gun.

  8. Anyone else see Cohen’s claim that Trump knew about the Trump tower meeting with the Russian lawyer? Doesn’t sound good for Trump if corroborated.

    1. Lynch Pin1477 says, “Anyone else see Cohen’s claim that Trump knew about the Trump tower meeting with the Russian lawyer? Doesn’t sound good for Trump if corroborated.”

      “To be clear, these sources said (lying rat sack of shit) Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.”

      “That denial isn’t under oath, but given that Mueller’s witch hunt has now extended to examining all of the president’s tweets, it’s about as close as it gets.” -TheNationalSentinel

      “Jonathan Turley on Mueller probe: “If you’re going to start to stitch together tweets into some criminal mosaic, then you really are reaching [the] evidentiary dregs.” #TheStory https://bit.ly/2LEHEVi
      6:36 PM – Jul 26, 2018 ”

      Hey Lynch, reserve the gleeful hand rubbing for your pecker

  9. We wouldn’t want Trump upsetting cherished conventions of decorum.

    1. Reaching into the public treasury in an attempt to buy votes *is* a convention – though not, I hope, a convention cherished by normal people. It’s grown like a cancer – yes, a “bipartisan” cancer.

      And the reason it won’t stop is because each side says the other does it worse, so it’s really the fault of the wrong team being in power.

      Sad.

      1. Trump is a cancer on the Republican party, so I say he should campaign on camera as much as possible, and I don’t mind paying for it.

        1. Trump damages your otherwise favorable impression of the Republicans? 🙂

          1. Considering I didn’t think they could do worse than Bush Jr., he mostly makes me wonder what twitchy slime creature comes next.

            1. You forgot about how much you hated John McCain and Mitt Romney, too. Because you are not a partisan

              1. I am a partisan. How many times do I have to say it?

                1. So stop whining when you get treated like one.

                  1. It’s good if he is partisan, bad if anyone else is. It’s how small minds work.

                    1. I think it’s dumb not to be a partisan when you live in a place where almost all of your elected officials will be of one party or another.

                      There was a time when I was an independent and thought parties were for stupid people. Middle school.

                    2. Then it seems pretty stupid of you to constantly hang around a place which disagrees with your assessment almost diametrically.

                    3. As stupid as pretending that this place isn’t crawling with Republicans?

                    4. There was a time when I was an independent and thought parties were for stupid people. Middle school.

                      Wow. You were old enough to vote when you were in middle school?

                      That explains so much.

  10. It would be very nice if Presidents would avoid campaigning on the taxpayer dime, and that Trump will be the last to engage in this practice.

    Now, what are the odds that *any* President will behave so well, when the tradition and incentives are all the other way?

    At best it seems to be a talking point the parties use against each other.

    1. “At best it seems to be a talking point the parties use against each other.”

      That Trump used against his own opponents

      1. “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” /some French dude, I think

        1. It’s a good thing my expectations of politics are so low, otherwise my perpetual outrage would build up my blood pressure until I spontaneously combusted, and think of the laundry bills for everyone in my vicinity!

          1. Eh, if you blew up it would just release all the hot air back into the vicinity.

            1. It’s like you took my self-mockery…and mocked it!

              1. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen BUCS be mean to anyone.

                1. Was that mean? Just trying to make a joke.

        2. I’m just glad that Reason is taking this Republican refrain that was recited over and over and over again during the Obama years seriously.

          1. Also that Republicans never believed what they said to begin with

            1. “We said so many things, are we supposed to recall all of them before doing something?”

    2. Is it even possible for a sitting President to travel not “on the tax-payers’ dime”?

      1. no thats why its silly to bring it up, see 100% SG comment above well stated

  11. This counts as outrage today? I feel like I went back in time and I’m listening to Mark Levin talk about Obama.

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