After a Senate investigation into travel disbursements revealed he had improperly billed taxpayers over 35 years, Sen. Dick Lugar is writing a check for more than $14,000 to the federal Treasury.
The Indiana Republican said Friday that the probe by the Senate’s disbursing office found he had improperly billed for hotel stays for all but seven years during his time in office, amounting to $14,684.85, Politico reported.
It was Politico’s inquiry into Lugar’s travel billing that prompted the disclosure.
“Your office has compiled a comprehensive list documenting cases in which I incurred per diem expenses during trips that included a stop in Indianapolis … during August recess periods and sine die adjournments,” Lugar said in a letter to Christopher Doby, financial clerk of the Senate. “Vouchers for per diem expenses incurred in the Indianapolis area during these periods should not have been submitted or paid, even though they all pertained to official business.”
The disclosure is likely to boost rival Richard Mourdock, who is facing off against Lugar in a tough GOP primary contest in May. Mourdock has has accused the senior senator of being out of touch with the state since he has not owned a residence there since 1977.
The Washington watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Senate ethics complaint on Thursday for Lugar’s failure to abide by Senate rules for travel disbursements. Lugar’s camp called the complaint politically motivated.
Lugar’s office has said he’s billed the Treasury for about $70,000 in hotel costs over the past 35 years — but those charges were allowed under Senate rules because they occurred in periods when the Senate was in session.
Senate guidelines require senators to certify his or her “usual place of residence” in their home state as a so-called duty station during periods of Senate adjournment. During those periods, a senator is not allowed to use official funds within the duty station’s region to cover hotel costs, a problem for Lugar since he no longer owns a home there. Lugar has certified his duty station to be at the Indianapolis house he sold in 1977.
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