Did Paul know about double reimbursements for travel expenses?

posted at 9:55 am on February 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Two weeks ago, Roll Call unearthed a number of occasions where Rep. Ron Paul took full reimbursements for travel from both taxpayers and from political groups, apparently pocketing the cash.  His campaign responded that a few errors might have occurred but no intentional fraud had ever occurred.  Today, Roll Call reports that they have found more cases of double-dipping, and get libertarian activist and former Paul ally David James to go on the record as saying he warned Paul of this very practice — and that it lead to a falling out between the two:

Roll Call reported Feb. 6 that Paul was repeatedly paid twice for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled, according to public records and credit card statements for an American Express card in Paul’s name.

Spokesman Jesse Benton said then it was “possible that wholly inadvertent errors were made in a handful of instances” in which flights were reimbursed twice, but he maintained that “absolutely zero taxpayer funds were ever misused.”

But James’ recollection and new documents obtained by Roll Call suggest Paul was aware that he was often being reimbursed twice for individual flights. In all, Roll Call found 26 flights in which several layers of documentation show double payments: credit card statements that detail the ticket purchases, a payment to Paul from his taxpayer-funded House account for reimbursement of a flight and Federal Election Commission records or copies of checks that verify a second payment from a separate group for the same flight.

Roll Call obtained copies of checks from the Liberty Committee to American Express that paid for Paul’s expenses. The records obtained by Roll Call cover about 17 nonconsecutive months. Beyond the 26 flights, documents show an additional 31 flights where it appears Paul was double-reimbursed but the records lack sufficient detail to prove duplicate payments.

The issue between James and Paul goes back to 2005, when James first discovered the double-dipping and assumed it was an error.  As chair of the Liberty Committee, he pressed Paul’s office to get documentation for the flights that the Liberty Committee had already reimburses, but kept getting stalled by Paul and his Congressional staff.  James raised the issue directly with Paul and got a surprising response:

The office manager said Paul’s Congressional office no longer had documentation for that flight; Paul had sent it in to the House Finance Office for reimbursement. But Liberty Committee had already sent a check to American Express to cover the charge on Paul’s credit card.

“I don’t care what flights the Liberty Committee pays for,” James said, “because Ron never took enough in expenses to come anywhere near his value to us. And this was piddly. But it’s just what it was.”

James first thought it was accidental and faxed a letter to Paul’s office, requesting that its money be returned for the flight. Paul did repay the $403.70, but the episode strained their relationship and led to a falling out a year later.

In a subsequent conversation, James raised the issue, and Paul “was very curt, and he simply said, ‘Yep, well, happens all the time,’” James, 64, told Roll Call.

In the end, this contributed to a battle between James and Paul over control of Liberty Committee.  After a series of conflicts over this and other issues, Paul tried to get the LC’s board to toss James out of the group and align themselves with Paul.  The effort failed, and James remains in control of the Liberty Committee.  The group still backs libertarian-based legislation in Congress, including from Paul, but no longer have ties to Paul’s Congressional office.  Roll Call reports that James sent a demand last week for an explanation of $10,000 in reimbursements for almost twenty flights that may have been double-billed to taxpayers and the LC, and have yet to get a response.

Despite the response from the campaign earlier this month, Paul and his Congressional staff knew about this issue for years before Roll Call reported the story, and apparently did little to resolve it.  Two weeks ago, I wrote that this would likely end in some checks being cut and disclosure forms amended, but Paul’s team had better start working on that ASAP before this turns into an Ethics Committee hearing.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

He was a recruiter for them.

FloatingRock on February 21, 2012 at 2:58 PM

And because some here are unaware of this, they have no idea that this will come up during a general election if Romney is the nominee. The Mormon Church has more skeletons in it’s closet than just polygamy.

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Some Paul apologists, who are attempting misdirection with inaccurate statements about Mormonism, need to google Elijah Abel…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah_Abel

Although, there will be stories about the religion & race if Romney is the nominee, I have little doubt.

cs89 on February 21, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I’m not a Paul supporter.. but I never viewed him as dishonest. Nutty, yeah. But not dishonest.

He’s no different than the rest of them.

JellyToast on February 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM

This story has nothing to do with whether Ron Paul has misappropriated funds. This story (as with all anti-Ron Paul stories) is about his foreign policy. If Ron Paul had the “right” foreign policy, this would not be considered newsworthy.

cavalier973 on February 21, 2012 at 4:53 PM

This story has nothing to do with whether Ron Paul has misappropriated funds. This story (as with all anti-Ron Paul stories) is about his foreign policy. If Ron Paul had the “right” foreign policy, this would not be considered newsworthy.

cavalier973 on February 21, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Conversely, if this ‘story’ were about Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, the Paultards would all over them for being corrupt. Ron Paul is immune from criticism to these people. Ron Paul could be caught in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue with a smoking gun in his hand and a corpse at his feet, and they would deny that he did anything wrong.

JannyMae on February 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM

JannyMae on February 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Innocent until proven guilty my dear JannyMae. He was probably defending himself against an enraged Karl Rove. :)

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 5:33 PM

This is about much more than double dipping. I just finished reading the Roll Call article. And I would suggest others do the same if you haven’t already. This is an issue of Character.

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_98/Associate-Confronted-Ron-Paul-About-Flights-212541-1.html?pos=htmbtxt

bluefox on February 21, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Oh, Newt & Palin are on Hannity tonight.

bluefox on February 21, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Who is actually making this error? His office manager/campaign manager? Or Paul? One or two flights is a mistake . . . 57 flights is not a mistake. It is either fraud or gross incompetency.

Voter from WA State on February 21, 2012 at 10:20 AM

When there is written documentation provided and the amount in question is now $10,000 over a period of time, I am concluding it’s fraud. There is no justification to claim incompetency. And yes there should be an Ethics Investigation. Especially when more and more evidence is pointing to an alliance between Paul & Romney against Santorum. Same thing happened between Paul & Romney tag teaming with ads against Newt in Iowa.

If Paul is making a deal to endorse Romney in exchange for a platform at the Convention or a Cabinet position, we need to know about this issue that Ed and Roll Call has brought up.

bluefox on February 21, 2012 at 6:06 PM

There is no justification to claim incompetency. And yes there should be an Ethics Investigation. Especially when more and more evidence is pointing to an alliance between Paul & Romney against Santorum.

Well at least you want an investigation for all the right reasons and not for, you know, purely political ones.

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Well at least you want an investigation for all the right reasons and not for, you know, purely political ones.

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Thank you. I like Paul, he has a lot going for him. His humor I find nice too:-) He reminds me of my dad in a couple of ways:-)

Integrity is very important because it involves trust that the American people place in an elected official.

Hopefully either an Ethics inquiry or Paul himself can clear this up. It’s hard to see how it could be an oversight, but both sides need heard.

bluefox on February 21, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Conversely, if this ‘story’ were about Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, the Paultards would all over them for being corrupt. Ron Paul is immune from criticism to these people. Ron Paul could be caught in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue with a smoking gun in his hand and a corpse at his feet, and they would deny that he did anything wrong.

JannyMae on February 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Why would I focus on piddling little non-stories when there is such a rich source of material for criticism for both Gingrich and Santorum?

The only reason someone would focus on a non-story like this is that one has no other credible argument against a candidate. Self-described conservatives (who have shown themselves in reality to be born-again Wilsonians) initially assumed that merely pointing to Ron Paul’s Old Right “looney” foreign policy would be sufficient to kill his candidacy. Unfortunately for them, people are ready, after more than a decade of war, to hear an alternative to a foreign policy of perpetual war against third-world nations that somehow, despite not having the means to attack us, pose an incredible threat.

cavalier973 on February 21, 2012 at 7:34 PM

The Mormon Church has more skeletons in it’s closet than just polygamy.

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Great. Mormon bashing somehow ends up on a Ron Paul thread. I would’ve thought antisemitism would be more appropriate, somehow.

Oh, wait…

troyriser_gopftw on February 21, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Of course troy is so bereft of intellectual honesty, he will not even say who he is supporting, so this rule about “embracing” a particular candidate’s bad points does not apply to him.

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 2:51 PM

No, that isn’t true. I am supporting a candidate–not that it matters because I’m a nobody from Nowhere, Indiana, but I’m supporting Romney for the nomination. Between Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, and Romney, I figure Romney has the best chance against Obama. Gingrich is damaged goods, Paul isn’t sane, and Santorum is the King of Social Issues, not what we need in a general election campaign requiring focus on Obama’s record.

I supported Perry until he imploded in debate. He wasn’t prepared. He wasn’t ready. Running for president isn’t something you do on the fly.

troyriser_gopftw on February 21, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Great. Mormon bashing somehow ends up on a Ron Paul thread. I would’ve thought antisemitism would be more appropriate, somehow.

Oh, wait…

troyriser_gopftw on February 21, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Absolutely not Mormon bashing. As a Paul supporter, I readily accept that if he were the nominee, the newsletters WILL come up. Can you not accept that the Mormon church’s fairly recent history of racism will come up if Mitt is the nominee?

FWIW, they changed their policies and I don’t think that they are racists, but you cannot tell me that the MSM will be so kind. They are certainly not above attacking a GOP candidate’s religious beliefs.

troyriser_gopftw on February 21, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Oh good. Then by your rules you support the healthcare mandate.

iwasbornwithit on February 21, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Remember though, Paul’s stuff (cough) don’t stink at all! Just ask any PaulBot, they’ll tell ya (over and over and over again!). Oh, but don’t tell them about this or (cough) earmarks! ;)

insidiator on February 22, 2012 at 7:58 AM

Thou shalt not criticize Ron Paul.

Vanilla Salt on February 22, 2012 at 6:37 PM

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