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Cost of Hillary’s charter jets under scrutiny

Hillary Clinton, Email, State Department
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Hillary Clinton racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars on taxpayer-funded charter flights ahead of her 2006 New York Senate reelection and subsequent presidential bid, according to a report in USA Today.

Senators are allowed to use taxpayer dollars for charter flights to and from official events, but her spending is in stark contrast to what other 2008 presidential contenders from the Senate spent over that time.

{mosads}In the four years before the 2008 election, Clinton spent $300,000 on charters. She spent $150,000 of taxpayer money on charter flights in 2006 alone, an increase from the $85,000 she spent in 2004 and more than any other senator that year. By 2006, she was also largely seen as a top contender for the White House.

By comparison, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and then-Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) didn’t fly any charter planes with taxpayer money from 2005 to 2008, according to USA Today. Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) flew two charter flights totaling $8,400 during those four years.

None of those senators, however, faced reelection during that period.

Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, told USA Today that the flights were consistent with her “tireless work on behalf of New York.” He added that because New York is a large state, she sometimes had to travel to “hard to reach places,” and would use “whatever it took to get to where the people of New York actually lived and worked.”

USA Today found that Clinton took 28 taxpayer-funded charter flights, with a cost of $42,0000, to other states.

Current New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand spent more on charter flights than any other senators in 2013. Schumer spent $286,000 that year and Gillibrand spent $93,000.

Clinton is expected to announce a run for president in the next few months. She holds a dramatic lead in Democratic primary polling and an overall lead over most Republican competitors.

But she’s recently been dogged by questions surrounding her exclusive use of a private email address while serving as secretary of State. The private account allowed Clinton’s staff to decide which emails should be deemed “official” and sent to the State Department for archiving. 

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