O Audit, Where Art Thou?

Posted: Sep 12, 2014 9:16 PM

Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu hit a campaign snag when it was revealed she billed a charter flight to taxpayers last year. Apparently, it wasn’t her first time either. She ordered her staff to conduct a comprehensive audit of all traveling expenses made during her entire tenure as a U.S. Senator from Louisiana. The audit was released today with Sen. Landrieu reimbursing the federal government over $30,000 for twelve years of improper billing her traveling arrangements to taxpayers (via CNN):

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.

CNN first reported in August that Landrieu used government dollars to pay for a chartered flight that took her to a campaign fundraiser last November. Landrieu's campaign spokesmen said then that the charter company mistakenly billed Landrieu's Senate office instead of her campaign and that mistake had already been rectified.

The next day, Landrieu's office announced she would refund the Senate for a separate $5,700 charter flight after CNN questioned the expense. It was shortly after that report that Landrieu ordered a full review of her travel expenses.

Landrieu said her office now has a new system successfully used by other Senate offices to prevent future mistakes.

The reimbursed funds accounted for about 11% of her Senate office's travel costs over the last 12 years.

In all, 43 trips were made due "sloppy book keeping," which amounted to 136 campaign functions, according to the Hill.  But, Sen. Landrieu is still facing criticism that she only audited travel records since 2002. She was elected in 1996.

Starting next week, Cortney will be giving you weekly updates on the Louisiana race until Election Day . We shouldn’t be too surprised if this little accounting error is cited pervasively.  

Editor's note: This post has been corrected since publication. Original post said there were nine additional travel charges Sen. Landrieu billed to taxpayers. After further review, it turns out this wasn’t entirely accurate  We apologize for the error.