At the White House, the President filmed an announcement for "Dinner with Barack," a raffle where entrants are asked to donate to Obama’s election campaign. But there’s one problem with all this--federal law provides that the President may not solicit donations for a federal election in any room which is used for official duties. See 18 U.S.C. 607.
After National Review Online’s Jim Geraghty recognized the White House background and pointed out the relevant law, White House lawyers scrambled to come up with a series of reasons to excuse the campaign’s wrongdoing.
First, there was the flat out denial. One White House official claimed, "There’s nothing in there that asks for money." Obviously, the aide hadn’t watched the ad, which prominently displayed a website used to accept donations. Furthermore, the video was e-mailed out with a message from Obama’s campaign manager with instructions to: "Watch the President's video, and then donate $5 or more to be automatically entered for the chance to have dinner with him."
Next, the White House asserted that small donations for a raffle do not count as fundraising. However, when the website used in the ad accepts donations up to $2500, these hardly constitute small donations.
After that, White House officials claimed that it was the residence, not a place of official White House business. However, diligent reporters at RealClearPolitics found photos of Obama giving radio addresses—in other words, conducting official business—in the same location as where the video was filmed.
Then, officials pulled out the classic excuse--everyone else is doing it. The White House tried to point to the practice of past presidents. However, George W. Bush’s ads at the White House were not fundraising efforts. Obama may claim Clinton did it, but citing the practice of an administration rife with scandals is hardly sufficient to excuse Obama. Aside from the Lincoln bedroom mess, Gore made fundraising calls from his vice presidential office, claiming that he could do it because there was "no controlling legal authority."
RNLA Chairman David A. Norcross said:
This Administration basically does whatever it wants: appoints czars with no Congressional oversight, imposes by regulatory fiat what Congress has refused to do (such as EPA regulations on greenhouse gases, power plants and industrial boilers) and ignores the War Powers Act. Obviously the use of the White House as a backdrop for fundraising does not pose a problem for “the Man Who Would Be King.”
A DNC-funded ad filmed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the purpose of acquiring donations for a re-election campaign is clearly prohibited. When will Obama learn that the president is not above the law?