Spending allegations fly in final La. debate
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Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.) relentlessly attacked Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) at their final debate Monday night over allegations he wrongly billed Louisiana State University for work he performed while a member of Congress.

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“He’s going to be fighting more than President Obama,” Landrieu said in her closing remarks. “If he gets elected, which I doubt, he will be fighting subpoenas because this is going to be under investigation.”

Landrieu has made the allegations the central focus of her campaign in the final days before Saturday’s election. And at nearly every turn on Monday night, in questions ranging from federal spending to Obamacare, accused Cassidy of “padding his pockets” at the expense of Louisiana taxpayers.

But Landrieu also had to answer for allegations that she inappropriately gained financial advantages from her status as a lawmaker.

The moderator opened the debate by pressing the Democratic incumbent over charges that she billed $35,000 to her Senate office for travel expenses that should have been picked up by her campaign. 

Landrieu called the matter a billing error and produced documents she said put the matter to rest earlier this year 

“I’ve turned over all the records. It was a bookkeeping error and I take full responsibility for it. It has been fully paid,” she said. 

Landrieu tried to turn the question on Cassidy, who she has accused of wrongly billing LSU for work he performed, but the moderator pressed on, saying if someone in the business world had charged $5,500 for a short charter flight, “they would’ve been laughed out of the room.” 

Landrieu argued that every congressman gets a budget to allocate as they see fit, and that this allocation was an error, but that it made her “rethink” the manner in which she travels on the taxpayer dime. 

She then directed her fire on Cassidy, who she said “told us he is a doctor for the poor…but has showed us he’s just a doctor for himself.” 

Cassidy is fighting allegations that he remained on payroll as a congressman while not contributing at the school, wrongly logged hours at LSU while he was in Washington, and whether he took advantage of his situation to maintain tenure when he didn’t meet the minimum requirements. 

“It’s very simple, these charges are absolutely false,” he said, accusing the Landrieu campaign of taking his comments on the matter and “twisting them around.”

Later, when each candidate was asked what they'd do if sent to the Senate, Landrieu tore into Cassidy with her most direct attack. 

"[If he goes to the Senate] he will be doing a lot more than fighting President Obama, he will be fighting subpoenas because he padded his payroll, he took money without accounting for it…he did not account for his work and he will not turn over his records. This is a real serious issue."

Cassidy fired back.

“If I had been working to benefit the poor and the uninsured…the question for Sen. Landrieu, when she was taking taxpayer paid for chartered flights to campaign events, who benefitted there,” he asked.

Landrieu had demanded Cassidy provide his time sheets at the debate, and brought her documents to contrast the fact he didn’t bring any.

Cassidy admitted that it was his signature on the disputed time sheets.

“I’m proud of the work I’ve done with LSU,” he said. “I deliver a biopsy in the morning, and fly into DC for voting that evening.” 

“The work I’ve done with LSU teaching medical students actually benefits the poor and the uninsured,” he added, before launching into an attack against Obamacare.

LSU said earlier Monday evening it was reviewing the payments Cassidy received. 

Cassidy said he would like to continue as a part-time doctor for the hospital system if elected to the Senate.

The candidates clashed on other matters as well.

Cassidy sought to tie Landrieu to President Obama’s agenda, a strategy that worked well for Republicans ahead of Nov. 4. The Louisiana has lost some of its luster since then, now that a GOP Senate next year is assured, and national Democrats have largely abandoned Landrieu with financial help now that she trails heavily in most polling. 

In order to get Republicans to an eight-seat pickup, Cassidy hammered home that same successful messaging. 

“Families are struggling because of the Obama-Landrieu agenda,” he said in his closing remarks. “Sen. Landrieu supports President Obama 97 percent of the time…if Sen. Landrieu represents President Obama, I represent you.” 

Landrieu, meanwhile sought to tie Cassidy to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), a polarizing figure in the state. Again taking on Cassidy’s record as a doctor, she accused him and Jindal of cutting funding to hospitals in the state.

The Kestone XL pipeline also loomed large in the debate, as Landrieu’s effort to get the bill through the Senate dominated the early days of the runoff period before it fell one vote short. 

“When I get back to the Senate we will pass the Keystone pipeline,” Landriue declared.

“A Keystone bill did pass one chamber of Congress, that was the Cassidy bill,” Cassidy said of his bill that passed the House. “Sen. Landrieu could not get that passed in the Senate.”

Both candidates sought to temper their positions on the Affordable Care Act.

“This law is not perfect, it needs to be improved, but it is better than the system we had,” Landrieu said in defense of her vote.

And Cassidy said that while he favors repeal and replace, he would keep some popular provisions of the law, like the aspect that allows those under the age of 26 to stay on their parents insurance plans.

“There are portions of [the law] that can be repurposed,” he said.

This post was updated at 10:10 p.m.