Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu violated federal law by using taxpayer money to charter a private flight to a campaign event, a CNN report has revealed.
On Nov. 8, the Democrat spent more than $3,200 in taxpayer money to take the 400-mile, round-trip flight from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per-person fundraising luncheon, CNN reported, according to Senate records.
A campaign spokesman said the charter company mistakenly billed Mrs. Landrieu’s Senate office instead of her re-election campaign. The campaign noticed the error and paid for the flight on Aug. 4, almost nine months after the trip, the report said.
“We take our finances very seriously and are glad we caught the vendor’s mistake and were able to rectify the matter as soon as possible,” said spokesman Fabien Levy.
“Senator Landrieu’s disregard and abuse of taxpayer money is unacceptable and, reportedly, illegal,” he said in a statement, ABC News reported. “She should return all the taxpayer money she has spent on charter flights, open up her travel logs for further review to ensure there are not more violations, and apologize to American taxpayers immediately.”
Mr. Levy shot back, calling on Mr. Cassidy to practice what he preaches.
“If Congressman Cassidy was really concerned about this matter, he’d at least agree to one of the four debates Senator Landrieu has agreed to so they can discuss this in person,” Mr. Levy said in a statement to ABC News. “I’m sure voters would also like to hear about the numerous issues Congressman Cassidy has refused to give his opinion on, like the cost of education, taxes and whether Louisiana businesses have the resources they need to stay opened.”
Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign watchdog, told CNN that Mrs. Landrieu’s campaign could still face civil fines for the violation, even though it appeared to have been corrected.
“It is the senator and the senator’s staff responsibility to comply with federal laws. It’s not the job of the vendor, per se,” he said. “It sounds like their excuse is, ‘We didn’t do anything wrong; it’s the vendor.’ It’s the job of the senator and her staff not to pay bills out of a Senate office account if those bills were not for Senate business.”