"Air Mary," as Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has been nicknamed by Bayou State Republicans, is facing another round of questions about air travel she has billed to her official Senate account instead of her re-election campaign, Politico
Last week, CNN
reported that Landrieu spent $3,200 of taxpayer money on a fundraising trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana, in November. The senator’s office explained that the vendor "mistakenly" billed the flight to the wrong account, saying the error has since been rectified.
Then she had to acknowledge she was reimbursing her Senate office $5,721 for a chartered flight from New Orleans to Shreveport to Dallas for a September fundraiser.
Politico now reports that two 2012 trips may have been improperly billed to Landrieu’s Senate office instead of her re-election campaign.
In August 2012, according to official disbursement records Landrieu filed with the secretary of the Senate, Butler Aviation billed $6,787 for a flight from New Orleans to Vidalia to Shreveport to Alexandria and back to New Orleans, according to Politico.
Two months later, the same company charged $3,437 for a flight that took Landrieu from New Orleans to Opelousas to Patterson and back to New Orleans.
Since both trips included campaign events, it is unclear whether some or all of the flights should have been paid for by Landrieu’s re-election campaign instead of her official office as a U.S. senator.
"Sen. Landrieu’s disregard and abuse of taxpayer money is unacceptable and, reportedly, illegal," charged Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who is challenging Landrieu in the midterms. "She should return all the taxpayer money she has spent on charter flights, open up her travel logs for further review to ensure there are not more violations, and apologize to American taxpayers immediately."
reported Saturday that Cassidy holds a slight lead over Landrieu in the polls and has raised more money than the three-time incumbent.
The conservative Keep Louisiana Working has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over Landrieu’s use of travel funds for her re-election bid, according to Politico.
"Air Mary Landrieu seems to have no qualms spending taxpayer money to fly herself to campaign fundraisers," said Jason Dore, executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party. "This is simply unacceptable. Even worse, Landrieu only admitted to these violations of campaign finance law after the media started sniffing around and asking questions."
Last month, USA Today
reported that Landrieu spent $47,000 last year on charter flights. The story noted that Louisiana’s other senator, Republican David Vitter, does not use charter flights and instead "always flies commercial and drives rather than flies around Louisiana."
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