From USA Today:
WASHINGTON — Last summer, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., embarked on what his office trumpeted as a four-day, 1,000-mile trip across his state, with press releases noting he “woke up early to hit the road,” making stops at a minor league ballpark, a craft brewery and a Roanoke rail yard, among others.
But for several hundred of those miles, Warner was not hitting the road — he was flying a chartered jet at a cost to taxpayers of $8,500.
Warner was one of two dozen U.S. senators who flew taxpayer-funded charter airplanes to, from or around their home state last year at a total cost of just under $1 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Senate spending records compiled by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.
Senators pay for their official duties from taxpayer-funded accounts set aside for them to cover costs of staff, travel, office supplies and the like. The rules allow them to use these accounts to pay for charter aircraft for official travel when commercial flights “are not such that reasonable schedules may be kept.” Senators decide which way to travel, and some eschewed private jets in favor of flying commercial or simply driving.
Warner’s 1,000-mile trip took him to the far reaches of western Virginia, which is pretty remote territory with no commercial airports. But a month earlier, Virginia’s other U.S. senator, Tim Kaine, made a swing to the same corner of the state by car; his travel cost taxpayers $691.
Is it any wonder that Warner has done squat on improving Virginia’s congested roads when he simply hops onboard airplanes to chauffeur him around the state? Let’s not forget Warner’s LONE accomplishment as governor was raising taxes, ostensibly for roads, but then spent the money on other things. $8,500 may not seem much to someone as out of touch as Mark Warner is, but for a lot of Virginians, that is more than they pay the state in taxes for an entire year.