- Strong quake hits Japan, triggering tsunami
- Sniper heaven: Pentagon’s self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Violent gang taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Medicaid enrollment continues to soar under Obamacare, administration says
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: ‘We cannot afford to wait on Congress’ for immigration
- White House urges GOP to act ‘urgently’ on $3.7 billion request for illegal immigrants
- Politicians, criminals using ‘right-to-be-forgotten’ law EU courts forced upon Google
- Combat fatigue: elite special forces troops are ‘fraying,’ Gen. Joseph Votel warns
- German foreign minister to meet Kerry to discuss spying claims
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: ‘Get yourself some firearms’
A different kind of Obamacare: White House’s daily emails use tax dollars to boost Obama’s image
Question of the Day
The White House wouldn’t answer questions about how much it spends on staff time or other expenses to produce the e-newsletters or maintain its mailing list, although emails typically are much lower in cost than the postage and paper for “snail mail.”
The number of people receiving these emails isn’t known, but it’s likely in the millions. The White House’s official Twitter account has more than 4 million followers, and the spinoff group from Mr. Obama’s 2012 campaign, Organizing for Action, has a list of supporters’ email addresses that is said to number more than 12 million.
Some specialists on campaign finance law and ethics in government don’t see anything wrong with the White House’s high-tech effort. Meredith McGehee, policy director at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington, reviewed several emails from 2013 at the request of The Washington Times and gave the opinion that they pass ethical muster.
“There’s nothing in them that asks for money,” Ms. McGehee said. “They don’t look connected to his re-election. Third, are they about policy? Yes, they are. Now, they’re the president’s policies. But in my view, that’s a legitimate use of the communications office to promote the policies that the president is trying to implement.”
Federal employees are governed by the Hatch Act, which limits their political activities, such as actively supporting or opposing a political party or a candidate for partisan political office.
Examples of political activity that would violate the Hatch Act while on duty or using government property are sending email invitations to campaign events or using a government agency’s Internet connections to forward email messages received from a partisan campaign or someone supporting a partisan candidate.
Making greater use of online technology to promote the president’s agenda isn’t surprising to many observers, who note that Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns were famous for introducing social media and data-mining to modern elections.
“Technologically speaking, they’re head and shoulders above any other operation,” Ms. McGehee said. “It’s how they won re-election. Presidents have always had their political operative in place. The groundbreaking change here is technology has enabled any politician or any president to both outsource some of that and to do it on a scale that was unheard-of.”
Said Mr. Sepp, “The president’s communications team seems to have elevated the bully pulpit to a new, technologically advanced level.”
Ms. McGehee said the administration’s use of enhanced technology poses risks in crossing ethical boundaries, especially with Organizing for Action, which is busy this summer holding events to promote the president’s agenda. She said she believes Organizing for Action “has crossed the line many times.”
“It’s a very disturbing development,” she said. “It’s run by his operatives, they’re sending administration officials to raise money and appear at events. I think it’s very troubling.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
- Bush fixed bowling lanes that Obama wants to renovate
- White House urges GOP to act 'urgently' on $3.7 billion request for illegal immigrants
- White House plans for bowling alley upgrades abruptly canceled
- Colorado man offers Obama a toke of marijuana — a Rocky Mountain 'high'
- Obama, Perry to meet in Texas, talk border problems
Latest Blog Entries
- Obama and Boehner congratulate U.S. men's hockey on win over Russia
- Americans say income gap will shrink if government butts out, poll shows
- WH spokesman Jay Carney recognizes beard's 'insufficiency,' shaves it off
- Obama misses deadline again on budget
- Biden burns rubber in driveway, laments road restrictions
TWT Video Picks
Senate majority leader practices politics of personal destruction
- Pentagon's self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: 'We cannot afford to wait on Congress' for immigration
- Armed militia sets up Texas command center to 'fight for national sovereignty'
- Obama seeks brisk passage of border children funding bill
- Va. Democrat reportedly seeks nude shots of Kendall Jones
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: 'Get yourself some firearms'
- Bloomberg: Pro-gun towns must lack roads
- PRUDEN: 'Dirty Harry' Reids increasing eccentricity
- Violent gang MS-13 taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- 'Duck Dynasty' star's daughter gets charity boost from congressman
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs