A few minutes ago, I interviewed RNC chair Reince Priebus to discuss a range of topics, including a new Facebook application that will provide grassroots activists with an unprecedented level of power to organize and campaign for offices up and down the ticket. We discussed the nomination process and its success, their upcoming partnership with the Romney campaign, and the need to start fundraising immediately. In one exclusive, Priebus told me that their complaint against Barack Obama at the GAO for campaigning on taxpayer dollars may get escalated to the FEC:
EM: Yesterday, the RNC filed a formal complaint reporting “misuse of taxpayer dollars by Obama for America.” Tell us a little more about that, and where this is going.
RP: Yeah, I mean — I think this is a pretty serious issue. It’s not a political stunt, because obviously if it was, we would have just done it a long time ago. This was something that over time — I think this President has crossed the line in using taxpayer money to campaign. And I get it. I know other Presidents have done similar things. The difference is, though, this President has completely saturated the marketplace with campaigning on taxpayer money. I think he’s crossed the line, and I think that in law, as a lawyer myself, every — the definition of what’s reasonable under the circumstances changes with whatever the facts are.
So, it’s not good enough to just say, “You know, George Bush campaigned.” That’s true. But what’s reasonable and what’s not changes, and what this President has done has crossed the line as to what’s reasonable. Putting together three events in Florida, for example, fundraising events, for weeks and weeks on the calendar — I mean, people don’t just throw fundraisers together for the President of the United States with two day’s notice.
RP: They’re preparing these fundraisers for a month at least. They’ve got caterers, they’ve got to bring drinks in, they’ve got people to invite, they have money to raise. And then two days ahead of time, the President says, “You know what? I’m going to give a speech at the University of Miami,” and then suddenly I’m on Air Force One, I’ve got all the detail going, I’ve got it all paid for by the taxpayers, a nominal amount of money is paid out of the campaign account. This is just total misuse. And if it was once or twice, you know what, okay. But this is constantly, all day long, every day, and you know what? When’s the last time you saw the President giving a speech at the University of Oklahoma? Or the University of Alabama? Or Tennessee, or North Dakota? It just so happens that these emergency speeches seem to show up in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina. I mean, how dumb are we?
And we just reached the point here where we said, you know what, we’re going to file a complaint. And you know, depending on where this goes, maybe we’re going to put some real legal horsepower behind it, and I’m – we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen. We’re going to give it a few days and see what happens, but I think that this is something that the American people will need to engage in. I think for the most part we just have to say, “Enough is enough with this campaigning on taxpayer money.”
EM: You’ve filed this with the GAO. Are you planning on filing any actions at the FEC?
RP: We’re looking at that as well, I’ll tell you that. This is just the beginning, it’s not the end. This is just the first step forward in this effort.
Be sure to watch the whole video, and keep an eye out for the Facebook application next week. CNN covered the application earlier this week:
The party organization, which has the mammoth task of turning out Republican voters in every battleground state this November, is preparing to launch a new Facebook tool that lets users share news, talking points and the latest updates about the presidential campaign with their friends.
But the “GOP Social Victory Center,” which has been in development for almost a year and will be released next week, lets Republicans go far beyond just clicking “like” on a story about Joe Biden’s most recent gaffe or the latest veepstakes chatter.
Republicans using the application will be able do the work usually reserved for campaign offices simply by logging into Facebook from their personal computers, party officials told CNN in a briefing about the new technology at this week’s RNC meeting in Arizona. …
People who sign up for the application will be able to share news pumped directly into their profiles from the RNC’s communications office in Washington.
They can fill out and submit absentee ballot applications, see early voting deadlines, donate to the party or inform their friends about upcoming campaign events using Eventbrite – all while never leaving Facebook.
And simply by clicking a button, a user’s phone will ring and automatically re-connect them, via RNC headquarters, to targeted voters in key states.
Priebus said that selected people who have previewed this application say that no one else has anything like it.