- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The chairman of the Republican National Committee called Wednesday on U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu to release all records of her taxpayer-funded charter flights for an independent review, to determine whether they were campaign-related.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said if the three-term Democratic incumbent was unwilling to yield to such scrutiny, she should reimburse the federal treasury for all private flight spending. He said she showed a “longstanding abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

“This is not just a forgetful moment. It’s a pattern,” Priebus said.

The push for more information comes after Landrieu acknowledged she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account. Her campaign has reimbursed the federal treasury.

Landrieu ordered a flight review after media reports cited charter flights paid with taxpayer dollars that included campaign fundraising stops. The review left out her first term.

Her campaign said the review dated back to February 2002 because federal rules changed then to allow flight costs to be split between Senate and campaign accounts for mixed-purpose trips.

GOP leaders, seeking to keep the issue alive during a tight race leading up to the November election, are saying the senator’s report left large gaps.

They point to what they consider a suspicious charter flight that Landrieu took in May 2000 from New Orleans to Alexandria, saying she charged her Senate office $1,532 even though thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Alexandria area poured in on the same date.

Landrieu’s campaign wouldn’t answer follow-up questions about the report Wednesday, instead reissuing a statement in which the senator attributed the improper spending to “sloppy bookkeeping,” took responsibility for incorrect billing and said she enacted new safeguards.

In office since 1997, Landrieu is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this fall and faces two main Republican challengers on the Nov. 4 ballot, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy and tea party favorite Rob Maness.

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