Make that two times Mary Landrieu used taxpayer funds to travel to campaign fundraisers

It’s a not exactly a difficult rule to grasp: members of Congress can’t use their taxpayer-funded office accounts for to campaign. But Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has, for the second time this week, come under fire for using her Senate office account to charter a flight to a campaign fundraiser, via CNN:

The Louisiana Democrat chartered a private plane last September to travel from New Orleans to Shreveport, where she attended an official event. She then traveled on to Dallas, where she attended a fundraiser.

Under federal law and Senate rules, the cost of a trip that includes official and campaign stops must often be prorated between Senate and campaign accounts. However, if the campaign activity is “incidental” to the official trip, the expense doesn’t need to be split up. In this case, Landrieu’s Senate office picked up the whole cost of the trip.
[…]
A Senate aide said that because Landrieu was already going to be in Dallas, the office considered the fundraiser incidental and not an expense that had to be partially covered by the campaign.

CNN reported earlier this week that Landrieu used her official Senate account to charter a flight from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana so she could attend a campaign fundraiser. Landrieu, one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats, has agreed to reimburse the Senate (read: taxpayers) nearly $6,000 for the two flights.

The problem doesn’t begin or end with Landrieu. Senate rules are written in a way that makes it easy to abuse. So while the Louisiana Democrat has clearly broken the rules, what she’s done is probably symptomatic of a bigger problem with federal law and Senate ethics rules. In other words, don’t hold your breath that anything will actually happen to prevent this sort of abuse from happening.


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