Monkey Business Report: Taxpayer-funded travel for US senators & staff

monkeyThe Washington Examiner — the conservative daily that employees Renee Ellmers’s favorite “liberal reporter” — has put together a very interesting piece about how much we’re shelling out to cover travel by the ”honorables” in Capitol Hill’s upper chamber.  capitol

New York senators Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D) have each charged over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in travel costs to the taxpayers from 2011-2014.  Harry Reid has only gone home to Nevada 11 times in 3 years — the fewest of any sitting senator.

Our very own Kay Hagan (D) has charged off to us 79 trips over 3 years, to the tune of $52,384.  Richard Burr (R), our senior senator, has – by comparison – charged off 138 trips over 3 years to the tune of $120,848.  I understand that senators need to travel between the home state and DC for official business and constitutent services.  But I don’t understand what constituents Burr was serving on the 2011 trip from Norfolk, VA to DC   or on the 2012 round trip between Charlotte and Las Vegas.  (Burr also charged the taxpayers for quite a bit of travel “in and around Winston-Salem” — his hometown. )

For both North Carolina senators, some of this travel covered staffers. It also included car travel, car rental, charter flights, and first class laughingcommercial flights.   Both senators frequently — Hagan more than Burr — charged the government for “interdepartmental transportation.”  That’s fancy talk for hiring cars to take you around town while in DC.  I worked for the late senator Jesse Helms in DC. Helms — as well as then-senator William Proxmire (D-WI) — regularly rode the subway between The Hill and their DC-area homes.  (That habit by Helms regularly spooked Helms’s security-conscious chief of staff.)

South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham (R) charged 87 trips to the taxpayers to the tune of $92,434. 

DC to NC is — at worst — about a six hour drive or train ride one way.  I went to college in DC and spent a short time after school working on Capitol Hill.  I regularly rode Amtrak home.  One of my regular fellow travelers was then-congressman Robin Tallon (D-SC), a really good guy who was one of the last conservative Democrats to serve The Palmetto State.  It spoke volumes that he foresook the first class taxpayer-funded flights to ride the train with us common folks.