Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is calling for an investigation of a “possible criminal act” committed by President Barack Obama when he recorded a video in the White House to help raise money for his re-election campaign.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, Priebus stated: “The facts of this case strongly suggest a crime was committed. I call on the Department of Justice to investigate this possible criminal act by the President of the United States.”
The Obama video announced a raffle whose winner would have dinner with the president and Vice President Joe Biden, and sought campaign donations of at least $5.
Priebus cites the Hatch Act, a federal law that dictates: “It shall be unlawful for an individual who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties.”
The Obama White House has cited a Jimmy Carter-era legal opinion to defend its action, according to Politico. In 1979, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel held that a luncheon President Carter hosted in 1978 with Democratic Party donors did not violate the Hatch Act because it took place in the family dining room of the White House.
The Obama administration argues, therefore, that rooms in the White House residence — such as the Map Room, where the raffle video was apparently made — can legally be used to political activities and fundraising.
Priebus disagrees, arguing in his letter: “The Map Room is not residential, but rather is ‘occupied in the discharge of official duties.’ The Map Room has been used for a myriad of official functions, including the administration of the oath of office to President Obama by Chief Justice Roberts.
“If President Obama recorded the video in the Map Room, then it appears he has committed a crime under federal law.”
His letter follows letters that Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent to the White House and the Democratic National Committee seeking records related to the video.
In his conclusion, Priebus writes: “As Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I have the responsibility to hold the President accountable for his reckless spending, for the unsustainable growth of government and the crushing debt he is leaving for future generations of Americans, and now, sadly, for his apparent criminal behavior.
“I never expected I would be in this regrettable position, but the President’s conduct and the White House staff’s stonewalling leave me no choice.”