By Adele Hampton - 04/26/12 03:11 PM EDT
The RNC filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office Wednesday, accusing Obama's campaign of "passing off campaign travel as official events," citing the president's recent trips to North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado to speak about student loan legislation.
"Given the recent excesses, waste and abuse uncovered in the General Services Administration, the GAO should be particularly sensitive to misuse of taxpayer dollars," Preibus wrote in a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro. "One might imagine that if this were genuinely a government event, he might have stopped in a non-battleground state like Texas or Vermont."
But the White House shot back at the GOP's accusations, saying there are aspects to Obama's travel that are impossible to get around and that they've followed the correct financial protocol when it comes to campaign and official events.
"The president is the president 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and he has to fly on Air Force One," press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. "He has to have security and communication. There are elements of his job that are always with him, regardless of whether he's in a campaign event or an official event. And costs are apportioned accordingly."
But Priebus isn't buying it, saying that Obama's travel expenses go beyond that of previous presidents, causing him to raise eyebrows and take action.
"I won't argue with you that other presidents have done campaigning," Priebus said. "But here's the difference — I think that like anything that's legal, what's reasonable changes based on what the facts are. And I don't think you can compare what Barack Obama has done in three and a half years to any other these other presidents combined.
"He has taken this law and turned it on its head."