Bob Casey Illegally Used Taxpayer Money for Campaign Flights, Records Show

Sen. Bob Casey (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
February 26, 2024

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey (Pa.) illegally used taxpayer funds to pay for private flights during his last Senate campaign, a Washington Free Beacon review of government records and social media activity found.

Casey’s Senate office paid $5,198 to the charter flight company Moyer Aviation on Aug. 8, 2018, and Nov. 2, 2018, for private flights to the Pittsburgh area, according to Senate spending records. Casey met with Pittsburgh Democrats during the August 2018 trip, which was covered at the time by CBS News. In November 2018, he campaigned with members of the United Steelworkers union and local Democratic leaders in Beaver County.

"With less than four days until Election Day, there’s too much at stake to slow down now," Casey wrote on Nov. 2, 2018.

Senators are given around $4 million in taxpayer funds each year to pay for staff salaries, official travel, office supplies, and other expenses. But it is illegal for them to use the money to cover campaign expenses. In 2014, then-Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) came under scrutiny after her office illegally paid for a $3,100 charter flight to a campaign event. Landrieu’s team claimed her Senate office erroneously paid for a flight that should have been billed to her campaign. In 2004, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer returned $20,000 to the federal government for dozens of private flights he took to campaign events. His office claimed at the time the payments were the result of "accounting errors."

Casey’s team offered a similar defense regarding his 2018 flights.

"The November flight was paid with official funds erroneously due to an administrative error and has been rectified," Casey campaign spokeswoman Maddy McDaniel told the Free Beacon when asked about Casey’s flights.

McDaniel said Casey conducted official business in addition to campaign activity during his August 2018 trip. She said the trip "was paid for in accordance with Senate ethics guidance regarding official travel."

The campaign did not provide details about how Casey rectified payments for the November 2018 flight, or whether his campaign picked up the tab for his August 2018 junket. Casey’s campaign records do not show any payments for charter flights during that trip.

Casey, who will likely face Republican businessman Dave McCormick this November, has used Moyer Aviation frequently throughout his Senate career. Between 2010 and 2021, Casey’s Senate office paid $50,000 to the private jet company, which offers "ultimate privacy and security" for its clients, according to Senate spending records. Casey’s campaign and an affiliated political action committee have paid $100,000 to Moyer Aviation between 2011 and 2022 for private flights, according to campaign finance reports.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.), who, like Casey, is facing a tough reelection fight, came under fire last month amid revelations she spent $210,000 of her office budget on private flights since 2020. There is no evidence Sinema took the flights to campaign events, but her critics have seized on the flights as evidence of her careless use of taxpayer money.

Dan Savickas, the director of policy at the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, said the illegal use of office funds is likely "more widespread" than publicly known.

He said lawmakers like Casey and Landrieu "try to find workarounds to use taxpayer funds for their own purposes that are not serving their district, but are rather serving their politics."