A former Democratic senator looking to regain his seat Tuesday is in hot water after internal records show he used taxpayer money to stay at Indianapolis hotels even though he already owned a condominium in the city.
Sen. Evan Bayh from Indiana charged more than $2,000 in travel and lodging expenses to his official account, according to internal schedule and Senate disbursement documents obtained by Politico.
Bayh’s campaign admitted that the lawmaker should not have received reimbursements for five of the fourteen nights because this was against Senate rules. Bayh plans on personally repaying $737.
The Democrat’s campaign refuses to concede that the fees for the other nine hotel stays should be reimbursed.
“The allegations raised here with respect to hotels do not reconcile with Senate travel records in at least one instance,” Ben Ray, Bayh’s spokesman, told Politico. “Out of an abundance of caution, we’re returning more than $700 to the Treasury in a case where the records are incomplete but suggest that the billing may have taken place in error.”
Senate funds are forbidden to be used within 35 miles outside of a senator’s “duty station” — the residences both in Washington and the home state.
Political opponents are using this as an example that Bayh isn’t really a genuine resident of Indiana. He didn’t stay overnight in his Indiana condo once in 2010, according to the Associated Press, and the internal records show he didn’t stay once in 2009.
Rather, when visiting Indianapolis, Bayh would stay at hotels with specific requests to be booked a “quiet room away from the elevators and ice machine,” according to Politico.
The debate over Bayh’s residency is not new to politics or the state of Indiana. Dick Lugar, former Republican Senator of Indiana, repaid $14,000 for hotel stays in Indianapolis after it was decided charging taxpayers was against the rules.
“Three-fourths of voters supporting [Richard] Mourdock,” Lugar’s Senate competitor in 2012, “said their reasons centered around Lugar’s longevity, age, and lack of residency,” Christine Matthews, a Republican pollster, told The Washington Post.
Bayh opened up his campaign in July with a double digit lead after he announced he would be seeking his old seat. But now the race is neck and neck after attacks from Republicans over his alleged impropriety.
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