2020 Democrats ramped up private flight spending in final months of 2019

2020 Democrats ramped up private flight spending in final months of 2019
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The Democratic presidential candidates spent more than $4.1 million on private flights in the final three months of 2019, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show, a nearly 90 percent increase from the third-quarter total.

No candidate spent more on private flights last quarter than Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE (I-Vt.), who paid roughly $1.2 million to Apollo Jets LLC, a luxury charter service based in New York. That’s more than three times what he spent on private flights in the second and third quarters of the year combined.

He paid $23,200 to the Vermont-based carbon offsets provider Native Energy, keeping in line with a pledge his campaign made last year to offset all travel-related carbon emissions.

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A spokesperson for Sanders’s campaign did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Not far behind him was former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE, who spent more than $1 million on private flights in the same period, up from $924,000 in the third quarter of the year, according to FEC filings. Biden has also purchased carbon offsets for his private flights.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (D-Mass.), meanwhile, dropped about $720,500 on charter flights — more than five times what she spent in the third quarter. A spokesperson for the Massachusetts senator pointed to a $16,758 donation her campaign also paid to Native Energy for carbon offsets.

Andrew YangAndrew YangDoctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls Buttigieg launches his own podcast MORE, the former tech executive, spent nearly $117,000 on private air travel, up from about $26,000. A spokesperson for his campaign declined to comment on the spending.

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergTop Democratic super PAC launches Florida ad blitz after Bloomberg donation The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Latest with the COVID-19 relief bill negotiations The Memo: 2020 is all about winning Florida MORE, who’s self-funding his presidential campaign, dropped about $646,000 on a private plane between late November, when he announced his candidacy, and the end of the year. 

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And Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill EPA delivers win for ethanol industry angered by waivers to refiners It's time for newspapers to stop endorsing presidential candidates MORE (D-Minn.) spent just under $85,000 on charter flights in the fourth quarter, a nearly 270 percent increase over the roughly $23,000 she spent in the third quarter, her latest federal filings show. Her campaign did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Only one candidate, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE, spent less on private flights in the last four months of 2019 than he did in the preceding quarter. He spent about $323,517 on charter aircraft in the fourth quarter, compared with nearly $479,000 in the third.

A spokesperson for Buttigieg said that the former mayor flies commercial “as often as possible” and charters flights only “when the schedule dictates.” The spokesperson also noted that Buttigieg was still serving as mayor of South Bend during the fourth quarter and occasionally had to fly noncommercial to uphold his official duties while on the campaign trail. 

Like his top rivals, Buttigieg has purchased carbon offsets for his private plane travel.

Four other candidates — Tom SteyerTom SteyerTV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month Inslee calls Biden climate plan 'perfect for the moment' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration finalizes plan to open up Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling | California finalizes fuel efficiency deal with five automakers, undercutting Trump | Democrats use vulnerable GOP senators to get rare win on environment MORE, Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Next crisis, keep people working and give them raises MORE (D-Colo.), Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardRepublicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates Gabbard says she 'was not invited to participate in any way' in Democratic convention MORE (D-Hawaii) and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickRalph Gants, chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, dies at 65 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden MORE — did not report any campaign spending on private flights in the last three months of last year.

It’s not unusual for presidential candidates to charter flights, especially in the final months before primary voting begins. But the flights also come at a hefty price. In Biden’s case, more than $1 out of every $25 he spent went to charter air travel, while $1 in every $40 was spent on air travel for Sanders.

In the third quarter, the candidates spent a combined $2.2 million on private flights, according to FEC filings. And in the three-month period before that, the combined total was roughly $680,000.

The fourth-quarter FEC reports covered the period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, but the candidates are still relying on private flights in the new year. Both Sanders and Warren have chartered planes in recent days to travel between Washington and early primary and caucus states.