Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate whether President Obama broke federal election laws by engaging in a political fundraising activity in the White House. Priebus claims that a “Dinner with Barack and Joe” video recorded by Obama inviting supporters to enter a raffle to win a dinner with him and Vice President Joe Biden was recorded in the Map Room, as opposed to the first family’s residential quarters as the White House has contended.
Last month, in response to a query on the matter from Real Clear Politics, White House officials said that the president did not make a direct appeal for donations and that the raffle is not the kind of fundraising prohibited under the law. In addition, they noted, it is permissible to conduct fundraising activities in the residence portion of the White House.
“Make a donation today and be automatically registered for a chance to have dinner with President Obama and Vice President Biden together. We’ll cover your airfare and the meal—all you need to bring is your story and your ideas,” said campaign manager Jim Messina in the email message that accompanied the video sent out in late June.
“As chairman of the Republican National Committee, I have the responsibility to hold the president accountable for his reckless spending, for the unsustainable growth of government and the crushing debt he is leaving for future generations of Americans, and now, sadly, for his apparent criminal behavior,” Priebus wrote. “I never expected I would be in this regrettable position, but the president’s conduct and the White House staff’s stonewalling leave me no choice.”
Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse denounced the RNC letter as a “disgraceful, desperate and politically motivated attempt” to get headlines.
“This is also an effort to distract from the fact that the President has run the most open and transparent White House and campaign ever while the GOP and its candidates could not survive without being in the pockets of big oil, insurance companies and other special interests,” Woodhouse said in a statement. “Instead of playing political games, the Republican Party and its presidential candidates should come clean and tell the American people who exactly among their special interest backers they are working for to end Medicare, slash student loans and place more burdens on the middle class in exchange for preserving tax breaks for corporate lobbyists, corporate jet owners and hedge fund managers.”