Flying Trump to midterm rallies to stump for Republicans cost US taxpayers millions
US president Donald Trump flew to more than 40 political rallies in the months leading up to the 2018 mid-term elections, to coax his loyal fans to come out to the polls for Republican candidates. A Quartz analysis of Trump’s travel schedule and the latest Department of Defense operating figures for Air Force One aircraft suggests the tab for the air travel alone was $17 million. The costs so far have been borne almost completely by US taxpayers.
How much of the estimated $17 million bill taxpayers will ultimately eat is still unclear. When presidents use Air Force One for campaign purposes, their political party or reelection campaign is supposed to cover a portion of the astronomical operating costs, according to Federal Election Commission rules. The Trump campaign reimbursed the Treasury roughly $112,000 for air travel in March and April. There has been no paperwork filed for any similar reimbursements since then.
It’s not unusual for a president to use Air Force One to fly to campaign events for other members of his political party, campaign finance watchdogs say. But “the general rule is the campaign or party has to reimburse the White House for the cost of the political portion of the trip,” says Brendan Fischer, the director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group on campaign ethics and finance issues.
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