The Obama File
Bill Levinson says Whitehouse.gov is using taxpayer dollars to endorse Democratic candidates, and to promote the partisan website Barackobama.com.
Obama is, as the head of his party, certainly entitled to give campaign speeches on behalf of Democratic candidates such as Martha Coakley, an individual who advanced her career by keeping an innocent man (Amirault) in prison. We suspect, however, that he cannot legally use taxpayer money for this purpose. Whitehouse.gov, is the property of the United States Government, and, as such, is the property of America’s taxpayers. Several pages at this website endorse the election or re-election of Democratic candidates, and one recommends that people visit Organizing for America (barackobama.com).
Levinson is not an attorney and cannot say whether it is or is not legal to use a website belongong to the Federal government to host electioneering speeches that Obama delivered legally in other venues such as campaign rallies, but he questions the practice and invites attorneys to weigh in on the subject. The Hatch Act says, subject to the provisions of subsection (b), “…an employee may take an active part in political management or in political campaigns, except an employee may not — (1) use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” This suggests that Obama or any other elected official can campaign for a party member, but cannot use government resources such as Congressional franking privileges, government-owned websites, or similar resources for this purpose. We also question a pitch for barackobama.com (Organizing for America) at Whitehouse.gov.
Obama gave a speech on behalf of New Jersey’s governor Jon Corzine, and a copy of this speech is hosted at Whitehouse.gov. It is depicted as a “press release,” but it nonetheless uses a U.S. Government website to advocate the election of a political candidate.
And, here is a Whitehouse.gov-hosted page in which Obama campaigns for Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
And, this page contains material that supports Martha Coakley and attacks her Republican opponent.
Again, it would certainly be acceptable for Obama or one of his people to make this kind of statement at a Coakley for Senate rally that was paid for with non-tax-deductible contributions, but we question whether it should appear on a website that is paid for by the U.S. Government. We encourage our readers to download these web pages so they don’t “disappear,” and for attorneys to weigh in on whether this is a problem.
Finally, we come to the issue of using a U.S. Government website to link to a partisan website such as the Democratic National Committee, or Organizing for America.
As bad as this may be, it’s not nearly as bad as Obama illegally using Justice department attorneys, and campaign funds to conceal his bona fides from the American People.
Now, you can add the $1 million spent to shuttle Obama to Boston to campaign for Martha Coakley — Air Force One, the escort fighters, the armored vehicles, the Secret Service, etc., etc., etc.