Landrieu Spent Thousands on Staff Retreats

Saturday, 09 Aug 2014 08:28 PM

By Andrea Billups

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U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu used more than $14,700 in taxpayer money to take her staff on a three-day Annapolis, Md., retreat in 2012, according to data analyzed by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group.

The group of 52 stayed at the upscale Loews Annapolis Hotel for a three-day retreat according to the foundation, which tracked three years of spending using Senate disbursement data — from April 2011 to March 2014.

The Louisiana Democrat's penchant for off-site staff retreats also included $20,124 spent in 2011, when they met at the International House, a Washington hostel, and a second meeting in New Orleans, as well as a scaled back meeting in 2013 in Washington, D.C., which cost taxpayers $8,441, said The Washington Free Beacon, which reported the Sunlight Foundation analysis. Her three-year total for retreats and related expenses totaled $47,575.

Sunlight Foundation's analysis of Senate spending reports also discovered that the Senate had seven staff barbers at the start of 2014, along with 200 employees who used "press secretary" in their federal job titles. The Senate, where a top-paid barber earned $80,000 annually, has trimmed its barbershop budget 50 percent over the past three years, according to CNN.

The Sunlight Foundation analyzed spending reports issued by the secretary of the U.S. Senate every six months for a look at how members of Congress spend money.

Landrieu is locked in a tight contest against Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy and a third opponent in the race, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, according to NOLA.com.

The website Real Clear Politics calls the Louisiana Senate race a toss-up between Landrieu and Cassidy, with its most recent polling average through the end of July giving a one-point advantage to the congressman, a surgeon who first took office in 2009.

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