Reporter Jonathan Strong claimed to have identified eight separate instances from 1999-2009 where Paul took reimbursement for his travel from the taxpayers, and then again from his campaign or another organization he controlled. Another 25 earlier instances showed nearly $15,000 in reimbursements that were the same as or similar to reimbursements paid by third parties, they found.
This is possible because the House of Representatives is not empowered to investigate political action committees to see whether they are reimbursing members for the same expenses being paid by taxpayers. Roll Call further notes that in 2009, the rules for Congressional travel disclosures were changed, making it impossible to tell who traveled with a member and where they went.
The campaign said that Paul absolutely has not misused taxpayer dollars, and that it was possible inadvertent mistakes had been made over the years. Spokesman Jesse Benton added that some reimbursements may appear to be duplicates “because Congressman Paul’s wife or a campaign staffer traveled with him,” then reportedly accused Roll Call of using “stolen” public records.
It’s not the first time Paul has faced questions over his air travel. One of the staples of presidential political reporting is digging into the candidates’ receipts to get a picture of just how posh they like to travel, and Paul is no exception. Paul billed taxpayers for 31 round-trips and 12 one-way flights, all first class, since may 2009, according to Associated Press findings published last month.
In all, taxpayers paid $52,000 for flights where cheaper tickets were available. AP found that Paul’s office could have saved $27,621 by selecting economy tickets instead.
“We always get him full refundable tickets since the congressional schedule sometimes changes quickly,” Paul’s chief of staff Jeff Deist explained.
But a review of the records showed that nearly two-thirds of the tickets were purchased two weeks in advanced or earlier.
With prior reporting by David Edwards.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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