By Javier Manjarres
Questions regarding possible campaign finance violations continue to plague Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as her Federal Elections Commission (FEC) reports are coming under increased scrutiny. Just last month, the Shark Tank pointed out that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz had violated FEC laws when she failed to affix the proper disclaimer to one of her campaign solicitations. (Source-FEC Violations)
But now her campaign appears to have committed another possible FEC violation with regards to her campaign’s travel expenses and a leased private jet from a charter airplane company, New Flight Charters, which is based out of Jackson, Wyoming.
First off, why would any Member of Congress or candidate have to use a private charter company for purposes of campaigning with a congressional district given how small most districts are in terms of square miles?
We’ll go out on a limb here and guess that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz probably used the charter aircraft for fundraising outside of Florida or some other kind of ‘special’ event. Also, the chartering of the aircraft could have been considered an ‘in-kind’ contribution, but if that was the case, the item would have been itemized as an ‘in-kind’ donation.
Wasserman Schultz’s campaign disclosed two payments to New Flight Charters, one on 4/24/2012 for $5000, and the other on 4/25/2012 for $4438. That’s $9438 for those of you in Rio Linda, California.
We know that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has been quite the jet-setting big spender, with her second home in New Hampshire, the ballooning assets that have more than doubled since being elected to the U.S. Congress, the $30K+ luxury cruise over the summer, and of course, her coveted Corvette. Remember, Wasserman Schultz is a self described ‘Middle-Class American’ who has yet to explain how a Middle class American can afford $100K in sport cars, one million dollars worth of real property, a $30K luxury cruise, and an ballooning net worth during her stint in Congress. (Source-Second home, Luxury Cruise)
According to the FEC, under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007,
candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, their authorized committees, and their leadership PACs are prohibited from making any expenditure for non-commercial air travel, with an exception for travel on government aircraft and on aircraft owned or leased by the candidate or an immediate family member of the candidate.
The argument that some may make about private jets being considered commercial because a single seat is paid for, as some charter companies offer this service, but this does not seem to be the case in this instance. In an letter we obtained from New Flight Charters, they clearly state that they are a Part 135 charter company that does not charter by the seat, but charters the entire plane.
This is the letter the Shark Tank obtained from New Flight Charter-
In layman’s terms, if you want to fly with them, you have to rent the whole plane. The also state that they “do not do any type of commercial flights or booking for commercial flights.”
In addition, we spoke to one of New Flight Charter’s Account Representatives who confirmed that the company does not “do leases whatsoever,” and that it is strictly an “on demand” charter company.
So the question remains as to why Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz chartered a private plane from her campaign account even though the FEC frowns upon doing such a thing. Given the fact that she is flying across the country more than she is traveling within her own congressional district and interacting with the constituents that elected her, its neither here or there, right?
Congresswoman Wassserman Schultz is running for re-election against Republican Karen Harrington, who is only trailing her by about 4.5% points-this is within the margin of error. (Source-Tightening Polls )
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