A Birmingham News story by Jeff Hansen and Michael Tomberlin starts off with this information about Dick Cheney's recent visit:
Republican leaders said they raised $125,000 to $150,000 Friday with a luncheon at Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club where Vice President Dick Cheney was the special guest.
About 100 guests paid $500 each to attend, and several paid $2,000 per couple to have their photographs taken with the vice president, said Mike Hubbard, chairman of the state Republican Party.
Does that math work for you? 100 guests times $500 each equals $50,000. They only say that "several" paid $2000 per couple for the photo op. Several is a loose term, but I don't think it stretches to the 37 to 50 couples needed to make up the difference between that $50,000 and the "$125,000 to $150,000 raised."
I have another question about the amount raised. Assuming Cheney really did bring in $125,000, is that gross or net? Because there were some expenses, you know. Did Shoal Creek Country Club donate the space and the lunch? Surely the Republican Party had to pay for that out of the receipts. What about the Alabama state trooper escorting the motorcade or the Birmingham police and Jefferson County sheriff's deputies who blocked adjoining roads? What about the cost of feeding Blue Moon barbeque to the 75 people who remained on Cheney's plane while he was at the Country Club? In fact, what about the cost of flying Cheney and that huge entourage down here for a fundraiser?
That stuff isn't free and I hope we aren't going to be told that the taxpayers picked up the tab for all that. Cheney didn't conduct official government business while he was here -- this was a political fundraising trip and the taxpayers should not foot the bill.
A couple of weeks ago, President Bush dropped in for a fundraiser in Atlanta to benefit the campaign of Republican Rick Goddard. Goddard's campaign ended up paying a portion of the travel costs.
The flight to and from Georgia was the only trip on Bush's Tuesday agenda, which prompted Marshall, Goddard's opponent, to suggest that his Republican opponent pick up the entire cost of the presidential visit.
Vice President Dick Cheney flew to Macon for a Goddard fund-raiser last month. Douglas Moore, a spokesman for Marshall, said such visits cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"These things are wrong. Rick knows it. This is a character issue," Moore said.
Baker said the Goddard campaign will write a check for $40,000 to the Republican National Committee, which will use that money to reimburse the federal government.
"We're in full compliance with federal law that's been in place for 30 or more years," Baker said.
Goddard's campaign also paid the RNC $15,000 (which was supposed to be forwarded to the federal government) when Cheney came to Macon for a fundraiser in June.
Congressional hopeful Rick Goddard's campaign shows a $15,000 payment to the Republican National Committee to help pay for the trip, which undoubtedly cost much more than that.
Federal regulations require that a campaign pay the equivalent of a first-class airline ticket for each campaign traveler on a flight - meaning people deemed to be traveling with the president or vice president for a political reason and not an official one.
The Government Accountability Office, which investigates federal spending on behalf of Congress, studied the presidential and vice presidential travel for a 2000 report that focused on the cost of foreign travel. That remains the latest GAO report on the issue, according to a GAO spokeswoman in Washington. The study put the cost of operating C-32 jet airplanes like the one Cheney flew on to Macon last month at about $14,000 an hour, in 1999 dollars.That doesn't include the federal government's security costs, the cost of getting the vice president's limousine to a location or the local security costs.
Aaron Schock's campaign also paid travel expenses when Bush visited Peoria on his behalf last month. The total amount was not revealed.
Is the Alabama Republican Party reimbursing taxpayers -- both federal and local -- for the expense of bringing Cheney to Birmingham for a fundraiser? Has anyone asked them to do so or is it just assumed that because it's Alabama, no one minds?