MADISON, Wis. (CN) – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spent over $800,000 in taxpayer dollars for air travel over a period of two and a half years, a liberal advocacy group claims in a report released Monday.
One Wisconsin Now, abbreviated as OWN, used flight information, schedules, social media posts and other resources to show that Walker travelled about 114,000 miles on 869 state plane flights from September 2015 through April 2018, at a cost of $818,497.06 to taxpayers.
According to the research, about 41 percent of flights Walker took during that time covered distances of less than 100 miles and, on average, he used a state plane every three days over the 951-days period.
In one instance in 2016, Walker reportedly got a haircut in Milwaukee and attended a personal event before having a state plane sent from Madison to pick him up and fly him to a National Rifle Association conference, where he signed a bill allowing concealed carry of knives, at a cost of $2,586.
OWN calls the flights “a serial use and abuse of taxpayer resources… to try to repair and rehabilitate his political image” following his failed run for president in the 2016 cycle.
“Every available piece of evidence would show that Scott Walker is a 50-year-old, 25-years-in-office career politician that always takes advantage of every angle that he can play when it comes to trying to amass campaign funds,” OWN Executive Director Scot Ross said during a phone interview Tuesday.
The report comes in the midst of Walker’s re-election campaign. He seeks a third term as governor and faces Democrat Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public schools, in the November election.
Walker spokesperson Amy Hasenberg said in a statement that OWN’s research is “a gross mischaracterization” of the governor’s dedication to visiting Wisconsinites.
“Governor Walker has shown an unparalleled level of commitment in supporting, listening to, and meeting with hard working families in every corner of the state. From visiting communities recovering from disasters to attending funerals of fallen officers and public officials, to discussing the positive things getting done throughout the state, Governor Walker has shown he stands ready to support Wisconsin and our citizens at any time,” Hasenberg said.
For a point of reference, former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle spent about $240,000 on taxpayer-funded flights during his last two years in office, 2009 and 2010. Walker spent about three times that amount over the two and a half year period.
OWN, a nonprofit group, said it is still deciding whether or not to file a complaint with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.