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Nonprofit Prods Ron Paul for Repayment of Flights

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo

James said he attached a chart documenting the results of the group’s audit with the April 16 letter.

Roll Call sent the chart, which includes the purchase dates and itinerary for the plane tickets, the check numbers for the Liberty Committee payments and the volume and page number of the statement of disbursement listings of the taxpayer payments for those flights, to Benton but did not receive further reply from the spokesman.

James discovered a single instance of a double-billed flight in 2005. Thinking it was accidental, he faxed a letter to Paul’s office, requesting that the group’s money be returned for the flight. Paul repaid the $403.70, but the episode strained his relationship with the Liberty Committee and led to a falling out a year later.

In a subsequent conversation, James raised the issue and Paul “was very curt, and he simply said, ‘Yep, well, happens all the time,’” James said.

Paul’s campaign has declined requests to make the Congressman available for an interview.

In a hallway of the Rayburn House Office Building in late February, Paul declined to answer questions about the matter.

Like other businesses, Members of Congress submit receipts for expenses to the House of Representatives administrative office for reimbursement. A source familiar with the process said these receipts are reviewed by House auditors and routine errors are found and corrected but that the office has no capacity to investigate whether a PAC or other entity is reimbursing Members for the same expenses.

Those expenses are listed in a quarterly statement of disbursements published by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House.

In 2009, the House released its quarterly expense reports online for the first time. But Congressional administrators erased a vast array of details on the expenditures, making it impossible to determine what much of the money was spent on.

The post-2009 House records offer almost no details. Expenses are described as “commercial transportation” or “travel subsistence.” In many cases, the amounts itemized are large enough to suggest numerous expenses are being grouped together on the same line item, obscuring the costs of individual purchases.

The changes make it almost impossible to track whether Members are being paid by taxpayers and other groups for the same items.

Since the Paul story broke, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) has introduced a resolution to strengthen travel reporting requirements in the House.

Quigley’s proposal would require Members to itemize individual travel expenses, among other things, in order to fill in gaps in publicly reported data that arose in 2009.

Salley Wood, a spokeswoman for House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), said Lungren is reviewing Quigley’s proposal.

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