News Orgs Question Romney Fee: Nine news organizations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have sent a letter to the Romney campaign asking for more details about charges. It's normal after a political campaign for the campaign office to bill media outlets for expenses such as food, travel and hotels. But several charges from the Romney campaign are so excessive that they raised a few eyebrows.
For example, on one occasion each reporter was charged $812 for a single meal and to wait in a holding area; on another occasion each reporter was charged $461 for a meal and a hold. News outlets were also billed $745 per reporter for a viewing party.
Read the letter below for more. via Gawker
To: Romney For President campaign From: Members of the Romney press corps To Whom It May Concern: We've dealt with numerous campaigns over the past decades and understand that we pay a premium to travel with a candidate. But recent invoices from your campaign have raised serious questions about the charges you have forwarded to us for travel with Mitt Romney. We are not quibbling over charter flights or hotel bills. We are focused on what appear to be exorbitant charges for food, filing centers/holds and ground transportation. Some examples: $745 per person charged for a vice presidential debate viewing party on Oct. 11; $812 charged for a meal and a hold on Oct. 18; $461 for a meal and hold the next day; $345 for food and hold Oct. 30. These costs far exceed typical expenses on the campaign trail. Also, it was clear to all present that the campaign's paid staff frequently consumed the food and drinks ostensibly produced for the media. Were any of the costs of these events charged to the campaign itself, to cover the care and feeding of its staff? We would like to see how exactly the costs were determined for any specific event above $200, including the amounts you were charged and to whom you in turn assessed charges. We have similar concerns about ground transportation costs, which at times exceeded $1,000 a day and were far higher per capita than what the campaign charged during the primaries—despite the larger numbers of reporters, photographers and television crews travelling and dividing the costs. One news organization contacted two of the bus agencies used by the campaign; it was clear from their reporting that the costs you charged us far outdistanced what you paid for the transportation. In order to travel with the candidate, reporters were required to agree to costs in advance without knowing specifically what those costs would be. The trade-off in any such agreement is that the campaign will not exceed the normal bounds of propriety in charging news organizations. In this case, that is seriously in question. Some of our organizations have alerted American Express that we are contesting these charges. We look forward to your response. Cathleen Decker Campaign 2012 Editor Los Angeles Times Jerry Seib Washington Bureau Chief The Wall Street Journal Dow Jones Newswires Richard Stevenson Political Editor New York Times Paul Singer Politics Editor USA Today David Millikin Director for North America Agence France-Presse Kevin Merida National Editor Washington Post Beth Fouhy Senior Editor, Politics and National News Yahoo McKay Coppins Political editor BuzzFeed Richard McGregor Washington Bureau Chief Financial Times