Get the Facts: My Travel

As a U.S. Senator who is the top target for political destruction by Democrats and the legacy media, fending off the constant barrage of false attacks against me has become depressingly routine. It’s impossible to single out any particular smear as the most egregious, but now that the Senate Rules Committee has cleared me of the ludicrous ethics complaint filed by a Democrat operative, let me detail how grotesque the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s (MJS) initial hit piece regarding my travel reimbursement was.

My Senate communications director first received an inquiry from MJS reporter Dan Bice in April regarding my travel reimbursement. She immediately began researching the reimbursement process and Mr. Bice’s specific questions. She quickly discovered that all travel reimbursements go through an audit process and are submitted through, and ultimately approved by, the Senate Rules Committee before being paid. Mr. Bice was provided the relevant sections from the Senate Handbook on rules regarding travel expenses demonstrating everything was normal and perfectly acceptable.

The travel in question involved return flights from Florida where my daughter and her family spend time during the winter. As is the case with many Wisconsinites, my wife also likes taking a break from the cold weather and enjoys visiting our family in Florida when I’m in D.C. When my schedule allowed, which was certainly the case during COVID shutdowns, I joined them. Over the course of 8 years, I averaged 3 trips to Florida per year. I was never reimbursed for travel to Florida, only for the return trip as is allowed per Senate rules – and never for an amount that would exceed a comparable flight from Wisconsin to D.C. Had I flown to Wisconsin on those weekends, it would have cost taxpayers more because I would have been reimbursed for both flights.

Mr. Bice was given all this information. My communication director also made him aware of the fact that both Senator Baldwin and I are quite frugal when it comes to travel expenses, but that Senator Baldwin has actually been reimbursed slightly more than me since 2013. Senator Baldwin has been reimbursed $152,962. 83 and I have been reimbursed $147,989.82 over that same 7-year period.

On average, the Senate is in session 40 weeks per year. We generally fly into DC. on Monday and fly home on Thursday or Friday. That would require approximately 80 flights per year, with an average cost per flight under $275.

Mr. Bice was also made aware of something else: Because I believe it is grossly unfair that members of Congress can be reimbursed for Obamacare policies – unlike the rest of the American public – I do not accept any reimbursement for my health insurance coverage. That has saved taxpayers – and cost me – over $100,000 since Obamacare was implemented in 2014. I’m not aware of any other member of Congress that refuses this health insurance reimbursement – unless they have access to coverage through their spouse. I also returned $7,627.49 to cover my pay from the 2014 government shutdown.

Mr. Bice knew all this, but did not include any of this relevant information in his hit piece that took as little as $5,418 in legitimate travel expenses and tried to turn it into a scandal and headline the Democrats could use against me. Never mind that the story was pitched by Democrat operatives who are associated with Democrat lawyer, Marc Elias, who is also implicated in the Russian collusion hoax.

While it’s true that Bice did write about my exoneration by the Senate Rules Committee, instead of admitting he was wrong to write the original article, he used the follow up article as another hit posed to bash me and imply I still did something wrong. I did not. The original story still exists and is accessible. And, needless to say, the original headline is still going to be used by Democrats to attack me. Because of this, The Journal Sentinel should immediately and prominently print a retraction to both of Dan Bice’s hit pieces. They should also issue an apology, not only for these two columns, but for a string of highly biased false attacks and partisan opinion pieces they disguise as news columns. I won’t be holding my breath.

When it comes to politics, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other corporate media don’t engage in journalism. They have become advocates for left wing policies and the Democrat party and its candidates. Rather than highlighting what most Wisconsinites are concerned about – forty year high inflation, record gasoline prices, rising crime, a baby formula shortage, the indoctrination of our children, open borders and a flood of illegal immigration – they are a mouthpiece for the Democrat party. They can’t defend the disastrous results of Democrat policies, so they enthusiastically engage in the politics of personal destruction against people like me who are opposed to the effort to “fundamentally transform” America.

As a result, Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race has become a contest between truth and the lies and distortions of Democrat operatives and their fellow travelers in the media. I hope and pray that truth can prevail.

Democrats need to be swept from power in November and helping me win re-election in November is crucial to holding Democrats accountable. To date, Democrats and their allies have spent over $70 million on false attack ads to defeat me. I will need significant help to effectively counter their lies and distortions. Any financial support you are willing to offer will be greatly appreciated.