The Gannett Washington Bureau recently evaluated travel expenses for the 100 members of the U.S. Senate. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, right, ranked 25th and Sen. David Vitter 74th in the study. (American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 8:08 PM
Few things undermine the credibility of public officials more than taking lavish trips at taxpayers’ expense. It is only right for them to receive fair compensation for work-related travel or trips back and forth from their home states.
The Gannett Washington Bureau recently evaluated travel expenses for the 100 members of the U.S. Senate. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu ranked 25th and Sen. David Vitter 74th in the study.
Landrieu’s total spent on travel for a one-year period, beginning April of last year, was $165,687 of her office budget on travel. For the same period Vitter spent $89,016 of his office budget on travel.
Each senator sets his or her own budget for travel expenses.
Among Landrieu’s expenditures was $16,748 for charter airplane flights for her and her staff for travel around Louisiana.
The private aircrafts were rented for her trips from Butler Aviation.
Here are some of her other travel expenses:
• She spent $1,892 on a May 16, 2011, trip with stops in Houma, New Orleans, Patterson and Baton Rouge.
• Landrieu spent $5,065 on June 1, 2011, for a trip that included stops in Belle Chasse, Ft. Polk, Shreveport and New Orleans.
• She spent $3,530 for a charter trip to Houma, Shreveport and Baton Rouge on Aug. 10, 2011.
• The expense for a trip on Nov. 14, 2011, to Marksville and New Orleans cost taxpayers $2,228.
• The bill for a trip on Jan. 27 was $4,018 to fly between Lake Charles and New Orleans.
Landrieu spokesperson Erin Donar said commercial flights go from neighboring states and back again to Louisiana, rather than directly to the in-state destination, which saves a significant cost in time.
Both Landrieu and Vitter take commercial flights between Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. Vitter, however, said he then drives to destinations in the state.
Landrieu is up for re-election in 2014, and Vitter will next face voters in 2016.
It is important that senators spend as much time as they can in their home states. Avoiding unnecessary taxpayer-funded travel
expenses is also important, if they care about keeping the trust of their constituents.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.