Democrat Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine hates the practice of lawmakers who travel on private jets. Despises it, as Maine Watchdog recalls:
According to written remarks delivered before the Subcommittee on the Constitution in 2006, Pingree said: “Most Americans never have and never will fly on a chartered jet, much less a fancy corporate jet complete with wet bar and leather couches. So when members of Congress constantly fly around on corporate jets and pay only the cost of a commercial ticket, it contributes to the corrosive public perception that members of Congress are more like the fat cats of Wall Street than they are like the rest of us.”
In the aftermath of the (Jack) Abramoff scandal, Pingree lobbied for a tough ethics-reform law that would have, among other things, completely banned privately funded travel. When a weaker bill was introduced, Pingree called the drafted bill “window dressing.”
So, is anyone surprised that reporter Stephan Burklin discovered:
An investigation by Maine Watchdog found that Pingree has been traveling on a private plane owned by the firm of her significant other, Donald Sussman, Founder and Chairman of Paloma Partners, a billion dollar hedge fund.
When AOL reported in late July that Pingree’s office was reimbursed for more travel expenses than any other house member in 2009, MaineWatchdog asked whether any of those reimbursements were related to travel on private planes. A spokesman for Pingree said: “To my knowledge, the Congresswoman does not fly on privately chartered jets….”
It is not clear whether Pingree’s use of Sussman’s aircraft was limited to (an) incident on September 17.
Flight logs of Sussman’s plane obtained by MaineWatchdog indicate that Pingree may have used the aircraft on several other occasions.
In several instances, Pingree’s trips between Maine and Washington, D.C. closely track the movement of Sussman’s plane.
Burklin lays out the details nicely. Oh, and there’s video of her deplaning: