Wasteful flights cause taxation vexation

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 1/22/19

Are you getting ready to file your taxes? So am I, and as I gather my information, I experience flashes of helplessness over the unscrupulous antics I help finance. You may know I’m not a fan of …

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Wasteful flights cause taxation vexation

Posted

Are you getting ready to file your taxes? So am I, and as I gather my information, I experience flashes of helplessness over the unscrupulous antics I help finance. You may know I’m not a fan of this administration, and the fact is that I simply don’t trust the government to be good stewards of my funds.

During recent donation drives such as Colorado Gives Day when I made voluntary contributions to organizations I’ve vetted, I had the option to either direct my funds for a specific purpose or to allow administrators to decide where they would do the best good.

This is not possible, obviously, with tax obligations, and thus it’s my continued disbelief in responsible stewardship that’s driving my frustration.

At this point, of course, you might say, “Yes, but what about …?” and although there’s no argument about other administrations’ misconduct, that doesn’t excuse or change the realities of this one’s.

By the way, let me be clear: I believe paying taxes is foundational to the principles of a well-functioning democracy. (I also believe that debates over who pays and how much will never be resolved.) And, probably like you, there are also even legitimate government expenses that I don’t want my taxes to fund.

Certainly we’ve all heard stories about $1,000 toilet seats and hammers and other what-not government purchases. Shame on both sides is all I can say. But even these boondoggles don’t exasperate me as much as the well-documented cavalier and unapologetic misuse of taxpayer money for, of all things, personal travel.

I’m astounded by the facts that have come out about former Cabinet members Scott Pruitt and Tom Price, for example, who were ousted in part for their ethically challenged taxpayer-funded use of military, private and first-class transport. (Use of available commercial flights is agency protocol.)

Pruitt’s EPA acknowledged that, instead of flying commercial, he frequently jetted home to Oklahoma on the taxpayers’ dime, including the $60,000 use of military and private aircraft for just four trips. EPA outlined further travel expenses totaling about $68,000, including a $20,000 first-class-flight, four-day trip to Morocco.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced out amid multiple policy violation investigations, and reportedly offered less than $52,000 in personal reimbursement to taxpayers for $400,000 in documented private and charter flights.

Perhaps most astonishing to me, however, is Mike Pence’s trip earlier this football season to home-state Indiana – along with requisite aides and security staff – to stay only a few minutes at an Indianapolis Colts game, in protest of a protest. Documented evidence shows this was his plan from the beginning.

The Department of Homeland Security released receipts of more than $75,000 in expenses. Adding in $43,000-an-hour Air Force Two (and ignoring the cost of local resources), the taxpayers footed a $250,000 bill. Clearly, Pence has as much right to stage his protest as the players he was protesting have, but it’s discouraging that he used taxpayer money to do so.

That’s why people like these are not anyone I trust to be good stewards of my hard-earned cash. And – although I’m quite willing to contribute to social programs, research, environmental issues, roads and bridges, and other ethical-where-it-exists government – I am hereby specifically denying any funds for unprincipled excess.

We’ll see how that goes.

Andrea Doray is a writer who wants to sincerely thank the Colorado legislators who – when she used to commute out to Washington, D.C., on Mondays and return on Thursdays – were always on the same economy commercial flights she was. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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