Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., questioned whether the president has fully repaid taxpayers for his use of government resources to conduct political and campaign events, in a letter sent to the White House today.
The senators noted that Donald Trump has specifically called for the election of political candidates in events in Illinois, Missouri and Florida that were designated as official, non-campaign activities. Federal law requires the president to reimburse taxpayers for use of government resources on behalf of political candidates.
“It is essential that taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize partisan political activities and that the White House comply with all laws and regulations that govern payment of expenses associated with President’s travel,” the senators wrote.
The senators asked the White House to respond to the following questions by November 7, 2018:
1. Please provide copies of any White House policies, procedures, or guidance related to the payment of expenses associated with President’s travel for mixed official and political purposes, including how specific travel costs are determined to be official or political in character.
2. Has the White House retroactively sought payments for the portions of official or mixed travel that was political in character? If so, please list the events for which reimbursements were received, the party or candidate campaign committees which made reimbursements, and the reimbursements amounts.
3. In instances when the White House has retroactively sought payments, please provide any records, including but not limited to, trip proposals, reports, memos, spreadsheets, invoices, bills, pre-payment estimates, wire transfers, or other documentation, sufficient to substantiate any characterization of the President’s travel political or official.
4. Please identify the specific travel accounts maintained by the Office of Administration that have received pre-payments or reimbursements for the President’s political travel.
5. Has the White House provided guidance to agencies on how to retroactively seek payments for the portions of official or mixed travel that was political in character? If so, how were agencies advised to calculate costs such as travel costs and salaries of staff, including advance staff, per diems, and other incidental expenses incurred by federal employees that cannot be paid for using appropriated funds.
6. Has the White House received any advice or guidance from the Department of Justice, Federal Election Commission, or the Office of Special Counsel related to the payment of expenses associated with President’s travel for mixed official and political purposes? If so, please describe this advice or guidance.