Why fly commercial when the American taxpayer will foot the bill for a private plane?
Last year, 24 senators spent nearly $1 million on charter flights, USA Today reported, and while some of those senators used private planes to reach remote areas of their states that they likely could not have reached otherwise, others flew into well-served metropolises.
The worst offenders: New York's two Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
According to USA Today's analysis, culled from spending records compiled by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation:
Schumer on several occasions spent more than $5,000 from his office account to charter planes between New York City and Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, even though cheaper commercial flights and trains link the cities. Gillibrand regularly chartered flights from Washington to places in New York with multiple transportation options.
Aides to Gillibrand and Schumer said their schedules precluded them from traveling by other means.
A spokesman for Schumer claimed that the senator's "rigorous" schedule forced him to take charter flights, and that he uses "a small, four-seat propeller plane with no bathroom that's not even big enough to stand up in."
While some Republicans were big charter flight spenders — including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who shelled out roughly $18,000 in 2013 — there was a distinct partisan divide when it came to spending taxpayer money on private planes.
In Louisiana, Republican Sen. David Vitter reported no charter flights, while Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu spent $47,000.
Nationwide, more Republican senators than Democrats booked charter flights last year — 14 Republicans to nine Democrats and one independent — but the Democrats vastly outspent their Republican colleagues.
Those nine Democrats spent $638,000, nearly 70 percent of the total $920,000 spent by the entire Senate on charter flights in 2013.
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