Democrats want investigation into cost, legality of Trump's July Fourth event

Senate Democrats are requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open an investigation into the costs of President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE's July Fourth celebration, including if it complied with legal restrictions on political activity. 
 
Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: EPA moves to limit financial pressure on 'forever chemical' manufacturers | California sues Trump over water order| Buttigieg expands on climate plan Now is our chance to turn the tide on ocean plastic pollution Buttigieg expands on climate plan with new proposals MORE (N.M.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (Vt.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign MORE (Md.) said in a letter to Gene Dodaro, GAO's comptroller general, that they are "concerned by the impacts and the precedent of diverting limited Federal resources" for the July Fourth events.
 
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"Further, we are troubled by reports that preferential access to the National Mall was organized by political entities such as the Republican National Committee, which furthers the appearance that taxpayer funds were used to accomplish political objectives," they added. 
 
The letter comes after Udall accused the Department of Interior last week of refusing to answer an inquiry from lawmakers about Trump's Independence Day plans, including how the additional cost of the plans will be covered. 
 
The Washington Post reported last week that the National Park Service had redirected $2.5 million from its overall budget to help pay for the "Salute to America" event. Trump, flanked by supporters and Pentagon officials, spoke for roughly 45 minutes, focusing largely on the U.S. military. 
 
As part of the GAO investigation, the senators are asking the watchdog agency to turn over cost estimates for the events, including separating out the costs for the national Independence Day parade, Trump's "Salute to America" event, the Capitol Fourth concert and the annual public viewing of the National Park Service fireworks display. 
 
They also want cost estimates related to July Fourth events on the mall for the last three years, and information on if any activities or programs were delayed, deferred or canceled to pay for the additional cost this year. They also want to know whether spending complied with restrictions on political actives, including the Hatch Act.