FEBRUARY 10, 2009
Florida’s lieutenant governor has billed taxpayers nearly half a million dollars for hundreds of flights on state planes, most of them personal trips to and from his hometown.
The hefty travel tab was accrued during Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp’s first two years in office and the trips often included his wife and toddler son, who traveled for free even though state rules require them to pay.
A South Florida newspaper reported the abuse in a recent article that also revealed how legislators quietly inserted a measure into a massive budget bill to reverse a state law barring public officials from using state airplanes to commute.
The Sunshine State, one of many suffering a dire financial crisis, budgets $3.5 million annually to ferry lawmakers—including the governor and his cabinet, House and Senate leaders and the Supreme Court chief justice—on state jets wherever they want to go. Six pilots are at their disposal and the private jaunts often cost taxpayers thousands more than a commercial ticket.
In Kottkamp’s case, taxpayers were charged $425,000 for 365 flights with two-thirds of them to and from Fort Myers, where he owns a $1.4 million house. Kottkamp’s wife and son tagged along on some two dozen trips, at a cost of $12,974 and the lieutenant governor spent nearly $14,000 to fly home in one month alone.
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