Of the privately funded trips made by White House aides since 2006, guess who picked up nearly a quarter of the tab?
The review of government records, undertaken by The Hill, found at least 24 trips for staff members to President Bush were paid for by churches or other religious groups. Faith-based organizations paid for the most travel in the time period, followed by universities and think tanks, which paid for 15 trips each.
Groups paying for trips include the United Pentecostal Church, the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Among presidential aides, the most frequent traveler was Goeglein, a former special assistant to the president considered a key part of the president’s political team. He took 23 trips worth more than $23,000.
[Former White House aide Tim] Goeglein, who is close to Bush’s former top political aide Karl Rove, often served as the president’s liaison to social and religious conservative groups and helped found the Faith-Based Office.
Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State , said his wish is to see the office shut down altogether.
“The office has become a system of rewards for conservative Christian groups who support the Bush administration,” Boston said.
Does anyone really think it would get any better in a John McCain presidency?
Barack Obama may be expanding the Faith Based Initiatives office, but paradoxically, he is making it more secular than before. I would think a man who taught Constitutional Law would not let the Religion Right pay their way into his policies.
As Joseph Conn from AU puts it:
White House staffers and Religious Right lobbyists are singing from the same hymnal, and the Religious Right often picks up the tab.