A review of Landrieu’s office expenditures and campaign records reveals two trips from 2012 that may have been improperly billed to her Senate office rather than her reelection campaign.
On Aug. 23, 2012, Butler Aviation charged $6,787 for an in-state flight for Landrieu that included multiple stops. The flight was from New Orleans to Vidalia to Shreveport to Alexandria and back to New Orleans, according to official disbursement records Landrieu filed with the secretary of the Senate.
On Oct. 18, 2012, Butler Aviation charged $3,437 for a Landrieu flight from New Orleans to Opelousas to Patterson and back to New Orleans.
Both trips included campaign-related events that raise questions about whether some or all of the costs of the charter flights should have been covered by Landrieu’s reelection campaign, rather than her official office.
The trips are becoming a serious headache for Landrieu, who is in the fight of her political life this year against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). After other reports of improper travel spending, Louisiana Republicans are dubbing Landrieu “Air Mary” to portray her as out of touch with voters after her lengthy Senate career.
We’ve reported at length on this business of Landrieu’s charter flights and her use of office funds to pay for things which are campaign-related; we had posts on the subject here, here, here, here and here last week. But until today I’ve been going back and forth in my head about how serious Chartergate really is.
When there were only two charter flights at issue, this was a pretty ugly piece of information for Landrieu’s campaign and the fact she waited months to clean up a relatively clear violation of federal law – not campaign finance disclosures, but federal law – and even then only did so when she’d been publicly busted on them. That’s bad, and certainly it’s damaging, but it’s recoverable.
Now we’ve got a third and fourth flight. Now we’ve got a clear pattern of behavior which isn’t just bad politics or unethical behavior, but actually illegal. It’s behavior which clearly and compellingly feeds a narrative the people of Louisiana already believe about Landrieu – that she’s a privileged Washington insider who doesn’t live like us peons back in Louisiana, and that she has the kind of stroke to do things we can’t do. Landrieu actually trades on the stroke she has in DC, as though it’s good for us peons that she has it.
Well, we can all agree with how much stroke Mary has. The disagreement now becomes that contrary to her saying all the clout she has in Washington is wielded for our benefit, we have a pattern of activity which shows that what it’s actually used for is to force the taxpayer to subsidize her re-election campaign as she goes around collecting shekels from those people who want the benefit of her Washington clout.
It’s greasy, it’s slimy and it’s absolutely unsurprising. It’s old-school crooked Democrat politics the likes of which have turned this state Republican while turning the stomachs of voters from Shongaloo to Delacroix.
Landrieu was already in a great deal of trouble before all of this broke. Now she’s in dire straits. And for good reason.
The next step for us is, we’d like to see the passenger manifests on those four charter flights. We want to know whose free trips accompanying Mary we paid for. Were they lobbyists? Were they donors? Were they other hogs feeding at the federal trough?
For Mary’s sake, there sure better hadn’t been someone from Patton Boggs on that flight to Lake Charles. Especially after they influenced her to support a cabal of Venezuelan narco-dictators who have them on the payroll.