Gov. Haley Barbour has traveled extensively on a Mississippi state plane and has mixed state business with both pleasure and national politics, a Politico review of the flight manifest since 2007 shows.
Mississippi spent more than $500,000 over the past three years on Barbour’s air travel, flight logs obtained by Politico indicate. Those costs do not not including security and other logistical costs associated with his trips. Politico said the records were obtained from the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration under a Mississippi Public Records Act request by a Democrat who worked in Mississippi.
“All he has to do is meet with one congressman or senator for five minutes, and he can say that he’s on official business,” Mississippi Democratic state Rep. Johnny Stringer told Politico. He introduced a bill in the state Legislature to sell the Cessna plane.
But Dan Turner, a spokesman for Barbour, said Barbour’s travels were important to the state’s economy. “Gov. Barbour is an effective marketing tool in a state that really needs it,” Turner said in an e-mail to Politico. “In other states, people don’t necessarily appreciate the idea of a governor being so outgoing about promoting the state, whether it’s in Congress or in boardrooms.”
While he’s the governor of the nation’s poorest state, his spending has only been a minor issue in Mississippi. Barbour even jokes that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told him “when we were in government together, that his most difficult job was to defend my expense account,” Politico said.