Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has campaigned on cutting the size and cost of government, but it turns out the Texas Republican is a big spender when it comes to air fare.

An Associated Press report published Monday found that since May 2009, Paul had billed taxpayers for 31 round-trip flights and 12 one-way flights, all first class.

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.

"You could almost always beat the government rate," Taxpayers for Common Sense vice president Steve Ellis told the wire service. “They need to be walking the walk, and one of the ways they can do that is to be fiscally responsible for how they spend their member office money.”

Throughout his presidential campaign, Paul has blasted his Republican opponents for not being serious about cutting spending.

"You are a big spender," the candidate told former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at a debate earlier this month. "You are a big-government conservative. To say you are a conservative is a stretch. Somebody has to point out your record."