Arizona Sen Kyrsten Sinema has spent tens of thousands of dollars since 2020 in taxpayer money to fly on private planes, according to a new report.
The independent senator has used nearly $200,000 of her Senate office budget to fund travel for her and her staff on private charter flights since 2020, according to Senate records. The expenditures were first reported by The Daily Beast.
The Independent has reached out to Ms Sinema’s office.
The Arizona lawmaker booked at least 11 private plane trips since 2020, the outlet reported. Almost all of the flights were charted for travel within her home state during brief trips spanning just one or two days.
For example, on 2 August, the Arizona senator and her staff travelled to numerous places within the state via Southwest Aircraft Charter — which describes itself as “luxury private air travel”, for a whopping $20,000, records show.
One week later, a flight taken on 8 August by Ms Sinema and her staff shows that it cost more than $50,000 as they flew from Washington DC to Grand Canyon. They flew on a Monarch Air Group plane, another private jet service.
Seemingly after landing on 8 August through the next day, the independent lawmaker spent over $18,000 flying on Southwest Aircraft Charter while bopping to multiple cities within Arizona.
Ms Sinema’s expenses on private air travel come in sharp contrast to fellow Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, whose records don’t show any funds spent on private airfare.
Jordan Libowitz from the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, spoke to the outlet about Ms Sinema’s use of taxpayer money. “This is one of those things that does raise the question of, is this the best way to manage the budget?” he said. “Could she be doing more for the state otherwise?”
He added that her using taxpayer cash “plays into this larger thing we’ve seen with her, where she tends to go right up to the line of what she’s able to do with spending other people’s money in the way she would best prefer.”
This isn’t the first time Ms Sinema’s use of private travel has been noted.
The blockbuster finding comes as Ms Sinema enters a tough election year. Ms Sinema has not yet announced whether she will try to be re-elected, however she already faces challenges for her seat from Democratic Rep Ruben Gallego and Republican Kari Lake.