appears to have been paid twice for flights between Washington, D.C.,
and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers
and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he
controlled, according to public records and documents obtained by Roll
Roll Call identified eight flights for which the Texas Republican, a
GOP presidential candidate and leading champion of smaller government,
was reimbursed twice for the same trip. Roll Call also found dozens more
instances of duplicate payments for travel from 1999 to 2009, totaling
thousands of dollars' worth of excess payments, but the evidence in
those cases is not as complete.
Paul's office vigorously denies that the Congressman ever intentionally received multiple reimbursements for the same trips.
Paul's office declined to make the Congressman available for an interview.
Spokesman Jesse Benton said it was "possible that wholly inadvertent
errors were made in a handful of instances" in which flights were
reimbursed twice, but he maintained that "absolutely zero taxpayer funds
were ever misused."
Benton said those flights "may appear to show duplicative
reimbursements because Congressman Paul's wife or a campaign staffer
traveled with him. In such instances, the U.S. House would reimburse
Congressman Paul's travel to D.C. for Congressional business, while his
campaign or political action committee would reimburse his traveling
companion's ticket." But Benton declined to discuss any of the trips in
detail, arguing that the office does not have records for many of the
years in question and that Roll Call was using "stolen" credit card
records as the basis for the story.
The available records name Paul as the traveler in most cases. In
other cases in which tickets were purchased for Paul's wife, Carol, or
for staffers, those tickets — identifiable by distinct prices, dates and
flight paths — were reimbursed separately. In one case, Paul used a
company credit card in his name to buy a ticket for his then-deputy
chief of staff; Paul was then reimbursed by his Congressional office and
also by his campaign.
Roll Call obtained copies of credit card statements for a corporate American Express card assigned to Ron Paul
& Associates Inc. on which many flights were purchased. The flight
details on those statements matched payment records filed to the Federal
Election Commission and office expenses itemized in quarterly
Congressional disbursement statements published by the Chief
Administrative Officer of the House.
For example, on March 24, 2003, Paul purchased a round-trip flight
from Washington, D.C., to Houston for $651.50. Several weeks later,
filings with the FEC show, the Committee to Re-Elect Ron Paul
paid $651.50 for the Continental Airlines ticket. Congressional
expenditure records show Paul also was reimbursed $651.50 by taxpayers
for the same flight.
Paul filed articles of dissolution for Ron Paul
& Associates Inc. in 2001 with the Texas secretary of state, but
the company's corporate credit card was used for years afterward, the
Benton suggested it was "possible" there could have been a second
credit card Paul was using to book his official travel, but he offered
no evidence to support that possibility.
The credit card statements reviewed by Roll Call include handwritten
notations that indicate several organizations — Paul's campaign, Liberty
Political Action Committee ("Liberty PAC"), the Foundation for Rational
Economics and Education and another nonprofit called the Liberty
Committee — would pay for many of the flights.
Documents indicate those organizations sent checks to American
Express for those items, while Paul received payments from the House for
the same expenses.
Paul's daughter, Lori Paul Pyeatt, was treasurer for the campaign,
FREE and Liberty PAC. Liberty PAC's website says its "goal ... is to
fund Congressman Ron Paul's political activities as he travels the country."
Paul's office declined Roll Call's request to make Pyeatt available for an interview.
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