Is Pennsylvania’s multimillionaire congressman, Matt Cartwright, using taxpayer dollars to park his private plane while he casts votes on the House floor? He won’t say.
But the Scranton-area Democrat is sending $425 a month to the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the New Castle airport, according to his official office's spending disclosures. That’s the local airport—just a 90-minute train ride from Washington, D.C.—where Cartwright lands his four-seater after jetting in from Scranton, flight logs show.
Four hundred and twenty five dollars also happens to be the going rate for monthly aircraft storage in a "small hangar," according to the airport’s website. Cartwright's disclosures describe the expenditure as a fee for "Taxi/Parking/Tolls" and "District Office Parking," and a spokesman for the congressman did not respond to multiple requests for comment seeking clarification. Cartwright's district is located in neither Delaware nor New Jersey, which is where the Delaware River and Bay Authority operates.
The Pennsylvania lawmaker, who was elected in 2012 and is in a rematch against Republican Jim Bognet, whom he defeated narrowly in 2020 in a district that former president Donald Trump carried, has routinely cast himself as a "fighter for all hardworking northeastern Pennsylvanians."
While the use of taxpayer funds to stow the plane is legal, strictly speaking, it threatens to undercut the image Cartwright is working to present to voters on the campaign trail, particularly as they grapple with rising food, gas, and housing costs.
Cartwright, who made a fortune as a litigator and is worth up to $10.9 million, according to his 2020 financial disclosure, is telling voters that he's "spent his entire career sticking up for working people."
This would not be Cartwright’s first plane-related controversy. The trial lawyer omitted from his personal financial disclosure the limited liability company that he used to purchase the plane, which is valued at $180,000. Cartwright's net worth has more than doubled since 2012, when he was worth up to $5 million, his personal financial disclosures show.
Cartwright, who holds an ownership stake in a law firm founded by his wife's father, also owns a property trust worth up to $500,000. He has regularly been late to pay taxes on his D.C. condo, which he purchased for nearly $800,000 in 2013. Last year, the Democrat called to "pass an aid package to assist landlords" without acknowledging that he himself is a landlord.
Cartwright will face Bognet in November after the Democrat ran unopposed in his May primary election. Bognet, meanwhile, topped his Republican opponent by 37 points in his own primary. Cartwright defeated Bognet by three points in 2020.
Democrats have reason to be concerned that this year's rematch could go differently. While Cartwright's district includes President Joe Biden's hometown of Scranton, just 38 percent of voters in the district approve of the president, compared with 60 percent who disapprove, according to an August poll reported by the Washington Free Beacon. Cartwright in April 2019 said he was "honored" to endorse his "friend, northeastern hometown boy, Joe Biden for president" and has backed Biden to run for reelection in 2024.