This news first broke about a month ago, but the cracks in the original story we were given just seem to keep spreading. Reporters discovered that Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) had taken at least two charter flights which included campaign stops – and should have been payed for with campaign funds – which were billed to the US taxpayers as part of her Senate office expenses. At the time, Landrieu attributed the improper payments to “sloppy book keeping” and made restitution.
But once reporters had gotten hold of the story, they kept on digging. And oh what a treasure trove they found. The number of such flights mounted and covered a time span going back more than a decade. This week Landrieu had to write a pretty big check.
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s campaign paid for more than 12 years of wrongfully taxpayer-funded travel, her office announced on Friday.
Landrieu’s campaign reimbursed the federal government $33,727 for chartered flights that were wrongly charged to her Senate office. The payment comes a month after the Louisiana Democrat ordered her attorney to audit her office’s travel spending to root out incorrectly-billed campaign travel.
Landrieu said the “mistakes,” which go back to 2002, stemmed from “sloppy book keeping.”
“I take full responsibility. They should have never happened, and I apologize for this,” Landrieu said in the Friday statement.
This may not even be the end of the story. As National Review reported, each of the flights in question can be matched up to stops where Landrieu met with donors and walked away with checks totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars. And those flights were billed to her Senate office. Another audit which we were shown this week includes flights going back to May of 2000 which match up suspiciously with other big fundraising hits.
All of this leads to the real question which a responsible media should already be asking. Are we to find out about this level of illegal spending, only to have Landrieu whip out her checkbook, offer a single paragraph apology during a Friday night news dump and be told to all move on with our lives? At what point does this stop being a case of, “oops… sloppy book keeping” and begin being labeled as Hey, baby, that’s just how we roll! This doesn’t look like a few mistakes. It looks like a pattern of behavior over many years which should be investigated as a criminal matter. The Senate is constitutionally bound to be the judge of the qualifications of its own members and, when needed, to punish its members for disorderly behavior. (Article I Section 5) Is there anyone in the Senate willing to stand up and call this what it is?