By combining political events and government business on his trips, President Bush has transferred some of the costs of primarily political appearances to taxpayers. In February 2002, Bush raised $2 million at two receptions for New York Governor George Pataki. Because he also gave a 21-minute speech at the New York Police Department’s command-and-control center, 54 percent of the trip’s expenses were billed to the government. Taxes are also used for the full $57,000-an-hour cost of flying Air Force One, regardless of the purpose of the trip, as well as for all communications and security costs. President Bush took 28 political trips in his first 16 months in office, eight more than President Clinton did in the same period. At each political stop, the White House staged an official event as well.
In January, Bush visited the grave of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just before attending a $2,000-a-person fundraiser in Atlanta. A church near the memorial site hosted a civil-rights symposium on the same day; the Secret Service initially told organizers that they would have to cut it short.
(Sources: Jeffrey Gettleman and Ariel Hart, “Bush Plan to Honor Dr. King Stirs Criticism,” New York Times, January 15, 2004. See article at: commondreams.org. Mike Allen, “On the Way to the Fundraiser,” Washington Post, May 20, 2002. See article at: washingtonpost.com.)