As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports–Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction, who regularly appears in the political scandal sheets over such matters as his fraught business dealings and squabbles with local media, is in trouble once again for apparently double-billing both the state and his re-election campaign for a sizable reimbursement of transportation expenses:
Sen. Ray Scott billed state taxpayers for more than $1,000 in Uber rides during this year’s legislative session — expenses he also claimed on his campaign finance account.
While the Grand Junction Republican later corrected his campaign account for all of those Denver Uber trips, he did so only after The Daily Sentinel questioned him about the discrepancies in the two filings…
Even though Scott had a vehicle at the Capitol when he was in Denver during the 120-day session, Scott used Uber 47 times at a cost of $1,801. He said all of those trips were for campaign purposes.
But 17 of them also were listed in his state travel expense reports during the four-month session. He was reimbursed by the state for those trips, all to Denver International Airport, for a total of $1,037, according to Scott’s travel reimbursement expense reports obtained by the Sentinel through a Colorado Open Records Act request. Those reimbursements were on top of money the state paid him in travel costs, including $11,811 worth of plane flights to and from Grand Junction.
First of all, this is a revealing window into the kind of fringe benefits lawmakers receive, especially those representing outlying areas of the state. Many constituents would be surprised to discover that lawmakers can bill the state for thousands of dollars worth of air travel during the legislative session, in addition to the per diem benefits lawmakers receive to compensate for working in Denver for part of the year. Is a $35,000 a year part-time state lawmaker worth flying back and forth to Grand Junction all the time like we fly members of Congress back and forth to Washington? Maybe–but you have to know it’s happening to even ask the question.
But obviously, that’s not the real problem in this case. Double-billing the taxpayers and one’s own re-election campaign might seem like a victimless crime, but if you’re one of Sen. Scott’s campaign donors you’re unlikely to think so! Of course, billing the state for campaign-related travel expenses isn’t cool either. At the end of the day, the law allows for these line-items to be corrected without penalty once challenged–but it’s worth noting again that without the Sentinel’s scrutiny, nobody would in all likelihood be the wiser.
Which we expect would have been just fine with Ray Scott.