Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is questioning the legality of a video associated with a raffle to raise money for President Obama’s reelection campaign, Politico reports.
Priebus suggests in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that Obama may have violated the Hatch Act by allegedly filming the video in the White House’s Map Room.
But Richard Painter, who was chief ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, is calling the letter “an embarrassment to the Republican Party, of which I count myself a part.”
“The small donors get nothing in return for their donation except a chance to support a candidate they believe in — until this raffle,” Painter tells Politico. “Now they get a raffle ticket entitling them [to] a very small chance of getting the type of meeting that a big donor has for the asking. To call this a crime yet ignore the larger problem is absurd. Writing this kind of letter — after standing in the way of campaign finance reform — is laughable.”
In a related blog post, Painter adds to his analysis, noting that while “there are serious problems with political activity in the White House,” none of them are raised by this letter.
The question I have for the author of this letter, and for everyone else in a position of responsibility in this government, is what measures do you support that will put ordinary citizens on the same footing as big donors? A raffle is not one of them, but neither is an absurd criminal investigation of a raffle while politicians auction off public policy to the highest bidder.