When gubernatorial hopeful Bill Daley launched his new website on Monday, he included a photo that could trump that of any other candidate in the race.
It’s an image taken in the Situation Room the day Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces.
The picture was snapped by White House photographer Pete Souza in May 2011, and shows, among others, an intense Obama leaning forward and Hillary Clinton placing a hand over her mouth while Bill Daley, standing in back, looks on.
“This is what leadership looks like,” the caption reads under the photo prominently displayed on BillDaleyIllinois.com. Above the picture, taken in 2011, it reads: “As President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Bill played a key role in the operation that captured Osama bin Laden.”
Daley served as Obama’s chief of staff and thus, held an advising role to the president from January 2011 to January 2012.
Asked to define Daley’s “key” role in the Osama bin Laden operation, his campaign on Monday told the Sun-Times that Daley “was the only non-national security council member or staff member who was in every meeting about that raid.”
While Daley in the past has singled out bin Laden’s capture as his most significant moment during that year, he’s likely to have a trove of high-profile snapshots taken with high-profile leaders.
But is it appropriate for Daley the gubernatorial candidate to use them in his campaign for governor?
The use of the official White House photo on a political website seems to tread close to the line on the White House’s own policy on whether photos can be used for political purposes. White House photos carry stern warnings that they may not be used for political purposes that “in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”
The Daley campaign said it clearly does not violate the policy.
“This photo is about Bill Daley’s record at the White House and nothing more,” said his spokesman, Pete Giangreco. “The picture speaks for itself.”
It was clear the campaign vetted the copyright issue and said they were in the clear — something that’s backed up by Sherwin Siy, vice president of legal affairs at Public Knowledge, a public advocacy group. Obama has been dinged for using official White House photos in Web ads during the 2012 campaign. Back then, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated that Obama was not alone. “We’ve also seen a number of political campaigns, certainly in 2010, that used . . . photos off the Flickr website and incorporated them into their television advertisements and other advertisements,” he said at the time.