Kyrsten Sinema Really, Really Likes Flying Private (When Taxpayers Are Footing the Bill): Report

As recent polls show, Kyrsten Sinema is not a particularly popular figure among her constituents, with 43% of Arizonians saying last year that they had a negative view of her. And a new report is unlikely to endear her to the people she represents!

The Daily Beast reports that Sinema has spent approximately $210,000 on private flights since 2020, a figure that might not tick anyone off were it not for the fact that the tab was covered by her Senate office budget—i.e., taxpayer funds. According to the outlet, “the Arizona senator has booked at least 11 private plane trips since 2020, with five of them coming in 2023, when she spent $116,000 on chartered air travel. According to [publicly available] reports, nearly all of the flights were chartered for travel within Arizona, as the senator and several of her staffers hit several cities and towns around the state on one- or two-day trips.” In one instance, Sinema booked a PJ to fly between DC and Arizona, “a journey,” the Daily Beast points out, “that lawmakers typically fly on commercial airlines.” Last August, she dropped more than $50,000 in taxpayer funds on a flight for herself and four staffers from Washington to the Grand Canyon.

While choosing to spend taxpayer money—and a large chunk of it at that—on private flights is not illegal and does not break any code of ethics per se, it certainly is a choice. As the Daily Beast notes, “by comparison, Sinema’s home-state colleague, Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), appears to have never used his Senate budget for privately chartered flights, even though he regularly travels to the same places in the state that Sinema does.” Sinema’s office did not respond to the Daily Beast’s questions about the senator’s use of private flights.

Also, there’s this:

The amount that Sinema spent on private planes in 2023 alone is greater than the current annual salaries of all but just a few of her most senior staffers, according to the congressional database Legistorm. Just the cost of Sinema’s private flight to the Grand Canyon is only a couple of grand short of covering the annual salary of her deputy press secretary or her military and veterans affairs representative.

So…not a great look! And speaking of not-great looks:

[L]ast year, the Daily Beast reported that Sinema’s campaign and office paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in security expenses to one contractor, who has no other clients but a personal connection to the senator, an arrangement that raised red flags for ethics watchdogs.

Drawing on federal campaign finance filings, the New York Post reported that Sinema’s campaign spent heavily on luxury items, including over $20,000 on wine-related expenses alone.

Also, she dropped $8,470 in campaign funds at the Boston Ritz-Carlton for a trip that just happened to take place around the time of the 2022 Boston Marathon, which the senator participated in.

Commenting on Sinema’s reported penchant for taking private flights on the taxpayers’ dime, Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Daily Beast that it “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.”

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