When POTUS and FL travel, who pays what?

Yeah, I know I shouldn’t bother with the comments in the Boston Globe, but given that we’ve recently had POTUS and FL visit Massachusetts to do some combination of official business and fund raising, it’s topical.  I won’t bore you with boston.com links… go find ‘em yourself.

According to the crazies on the Globe user comments, taxpayers pay for everything.  I suspect this is false, but I’d love to see some expertise.  My hunch:


POTUS travel is generally paid by tUSA, since he does official business on the same trip

Security is always paid by tUSA.  It’s neither POTUS nor FL’s fault that they need security, and they shouldn’t be forced to not travel simply because it’s in tUSA’s best interest to protect POTUS and FL.

FL travel is generally not paid by tUSA.  Exceptions likely exist for official duties, but generally speaking, my bet is that FL (and Fkids) have to reimburse for transportation, meals, etc.


1.  Who pays?

2.  Who’s going to go to Globe and post some facts on this stuff.  It’s small bore, but if (as I suspect) the posters are spouting lies about Obama travels, it further spins a narrative that Republicans have managed to spin about Democrats, and it’s not a good one.  It’s the elitism crap, all over again.

Recommended by fenway49.


7 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Here's a couple of links

    First, from CNN about Bush -

    Biersack said a common misperception is that when the president mixes official and political business on the same trip, his campaign can halve its reimbursement to the government.

    “The campaign must pay for travel to any destination where campaign activity takes place, regardless of what else happens at the destination,” Biersack said.

    But when the trip involves only official presidential business, Bush’s campaign doesn’t pay a dime — even if the president benefits from the exposure. During such trips, Bush can’t explicitly campaign for re-election.

    So by that logic, Obama would have reimbursed the cost of a First Class ticket round trip to Boston for himself and all staff for his recent Cyclorama trip (full cost cannot be reimbursed, as POTUS has no say in what plane to take – the campaign just reimburses the cost of first class travel).

    This is from Snopes about FLOTUS travel – http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/firstlady.asp

    I would look askance at the claim about Jackie Kennedy – I wouldn’t call decorators working on the WH upgrade ‘staff’. I would only call government employees with benefits ‘staff’.

    Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan were similarly excoriated, so I cannot get excited about this.

    BTW – part of the logic is that every penny that Bush/Obama had belonged to the taxpayers as they paid their salaries. But these are salaries for work produced, not gratuity stipends. Those posters would greatly resent their employers criticizing them for blowing cash on the Lottery or Red Sox tickets. Once they’ve earned that moeny, it’s theirs to spend as they see fit.

    FWIW, I’d like to see a return to the Eisenhower model. Truth is, FLOTUS HAS no official duties. There is no reason why FLOTII cannot hire staff out of their own pockets, no government benefits, and espouse whatever travel, cause or career they choose at their own expense.

    • POTUS travel

      Except that Obama also performed official business in MA — Mass Maritime Academy IIRC. So, shouldn’t he be on the hook for MMA to BOS and back, since he had to go to MMA for official business anyway? That’s my source of confusion.

      As for FLOTUII, while they have no official duties, that doesn’t mean that the folks on their staff aren’t performing functions which are to the benefit of tUSA — effectively making the FLOTUS an unpaid intern manager, no?

      • So how many interns get to hire a score of people who DO get salary?

        Why would this person get to unilaterally hire, with no duties and no oversight, salaried and pension-eligible government employees? Many people perform services that make America better without taxpayer subsidy, and it’s time for the FLOTII to join them. Maybe make this policy effective in 2013?

        And again, per Snopes, your confusion is common. They have to reimburse the whole airfare on the trip – which is chump change when the actual expense is tallied – to prevent unfair advantage by commingling of campaign and official duties to avoid any expense while the opponent has to pay full freight on their air fare. At lkeast, that’s what the Bush Administration did.

        He DID reimburse that, didn’t he?

        • every single one who's spouse is leader of the free world

          what makes you think the person’s decisions are “unilateral?” I mean, by hook or crook, the FLOTUS is indeed answerable to POTUS when acting as FLOTUS. I just don’t think that there’s any “there” there. The FLOTUS may not have official duty, but FLOTUS does act as an extension of the POTUS office, from everything ranging from Whitehouse PR to diplomatic pomp. To pretend otherwise is a little silly methinks, and if Congress thinks it is a bad idea they are certainly free to de-fund it.

          As for POTUS, makes sense to me. It’s a shame there isn’t a sensible Republican educating the frothing loonies on the Globe website. (shrugs)

  2. Are the Globe commenters denouncing Gov Christie?

    He reportedly took a chopper to a little league game. Bet they forgot about him.

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