Politics

Landrieu Spent $47,000 on Taxpayer-Funded Charter Flights

Democrat attacked for ‘disregard for other people's money’

Mary Landrieu / AP

Taxpayers paid nearly $50,000 for Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) to fly around her home state, according to USA Today.

Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu’s Republican challenger this November, criticized the expenses on Monday as showing "disregard for other people's money."

Landrieu was one of more than 20 senators who took taxpayer-funded charter flights last year, for a total cost of $1 million. USA Today noted that Landrieu’s colleague Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) was able to visit Louisiana without using taxpayer funds:

In some cases senators representing the same state split on whether to fly charters.

For instance, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, spent $47,000 on charter flights in 2013, including a $5,500 round trip flight between New Orleans and Lake Charles, La., 200 miles to the west. Landrieu spokesman Matthew Lehner said chartering planes allowed the senator to reach more areas of the state more quickly.

"This alleviates the need for multi-day stopovers and maximizes the senator's interaction with her constituents," he said.

But Republican David Vitter, the other Louisiana senator, reported no charter flights. His spokesman, Luke Bolar, said the senator always flies commercial and drives rather than flies around Louisiana.

In a campaign email Monday, Cassidy’s Campaign Manager Joel DiGrado said Landrieu’s flights were unnecessary.

"Senator Landrieu isn't even reserving this luxury for long and arduous journeys," he said. "She spent $5,500 to fly 200 miles from New Orleans to Lake Charles. The drive from New Orleans to Lake Charles takes about three hours."

"She obviously doesn't understand the depth of our financial situation," he said.