The complaint filed by the Republican National Committee arguing that President Barack Obama may be committing fraud for blending taxpayer-funded White House travel with campaign-oriented events seems almost pre-ordained.
The president's trips have increasingly been to swing states and the tone of his speeches have grown more election-oriented. More than that, the same criticism is lobbed at sitting lawmakers in virtually every election cycle and not just with respect to presidential candidates.
As a Democratic source points out, in 2004, then-Gov. Mitt Romney was accused of misusing taxpayer funds for several out of state trip, including a three-day campaign trip on behalf of George W. Bush. From a Dec. 7, 2004, Boston Herald article:
Gov. Mitt Romney's 49 days of globetrotting this year has cost taxpayers at least $20,000 in state trooper salaries alone -- not including hotel and other costs -- but the administration has dragged its feet on releasing actual figures. … Romney, who travels with a minimum of two state troopers at all times -- including on vacations -- spent 18 days in Washington, D.C., for various meetings, speaking engagements, book signings and other business. This past weekend, he traveled there again with a staffer and two troopers for a journalists' conference. In addition to the Super Bowl in Houston and the Olympics in Athens, Greece, Romney hit Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Francisco, Ohio and Minneapolis for various governors' association meetings and Bush-Cheney campaign trips.
The Romney trips undoubtedly cost taxpayers a lot less than those involving Obama. While the 19 out-of-state-excursions taken by the then-governor were worth at least $20,000 in state trooper salaries, the cost of just one hour of Air Force One travel is $179,750. (The taxpayer base is obviously larger for the whole nation than just Massachusetts.)
That said, Romney and Obama were similar on one point: both declined to release full spending records, the former because his administration believed it was exempt from doing so, the latter out of security concerns.