On Monday’s open thread (Pg. 9, comment @ 10:09:20pm GMT), I mentioned that there was a question about whether or not the President violated federal law by filming a political campaign ad in the White House.
The Republican National Committee on Monday asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether the president’s reelection fundraising broke federal law.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus cited a fundraising video President Obama appears in that seems to have been taped in the White House.
Federal law makes it a crime for the president to solicit political contributions in a place of official government business.
Having now done a little research on this, I’ve found a few details. Firstly, there are apparently some parts of the White House which are off-limits for fundraising and campaigning activity, while other areas, mostly the residential parts, are okay to do these things. As a few defenders of the President in the media have pointed out, previous Presidents (Reagan and Bush! Boo!) have done it before from kosher areas. Naturally, that’s the first line of defense as well.
So the question is, was this appeal filmed in a restricted area or not? Video and photo evidence below the fold.
The White House defense is that it wasn’t. Their other defense is that it wasn’t actually a solicitation for campaign funds. Here’s the full video.
This seems to me to clearly be an appeal for attendance at a fundraising dinner. Attendance costs money, which goes to the campaign fund, ergo it’s an appeal for funds. I’m not an expert in law, of course, but I’m not the only one saying this.
So if we accept that it’s a fundraising appeal, the real question is: Was this filmed in a restricted area? The White House says no. But the evidence says Oh, hell yeah it was.
One of the restricted areas of the White House is the Map Room. It’s not on the residential floor, but is on the first floor, next to the Diplomatic Reception Room. It’s also the room from which the President makes His weekly addresses to the country. Which means this particular video really blurs the lines between His address to the public in His official capacity as President, and His capacity as a partisan figure asking for campaign support. Yet the White House says that’s not what happened.
Here’s a photo of the President in the Map Room preparing to appear on camera for something or other.
Notice that big red couch on the right. Notice especially the lamps with the blue and white base on either side of it. I apologize for the low resolution, but this is the only photo I can find which shows the relevant part of the room. But the important details are quite visible. The pictures hanging on the wall are maps, hence the name of the room.
Now look at the opening frame of the video above. See the the lamp with the blue and white base just off the President’s left shoulder (right side of the frame to the viewer)? See the bit of red sofa abutting the table on which the lamp is sitting? Over the President’s right shoulder (left side of the picture to the viewer), we see on the wall a map of the Arabian Peninsula. This sure looks like the Map Room.
The Map Room is off limits to solicitation activity. This video is clearly an appeal for funds. It was also clearly done in the Map Room. I expect this isn’t going to get much play in the media who are still slavishly devoted to Him, and even more devoted to stopping the Tea Party movement and the Republicans from winning in 2012. Obviously this will be dismissed in some quarters as a partisan attack, which means it’s not worth examining.
But the evidence is clear enough: the President violated the law here. Don’t expect the BBC to tell you about this unless it hits the front page of the Washington Post and the New York Times and MSNBC is calling for an investigation. Where these stalwarts of the Democrat media go, the BBC follows. And the BBC does not go where they fear to tread.