Lugar repays feds $14k for hotel bills

March 31, 2012

By MANU RAJU | Politico

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) is paying back more than $14,000 to the federal treasury – three times his earlier estimate – after a closer review of his 35-year career found he owed additional money for hotel stays in the Indianapolis area.

The Indiana Republican said Friday that an investigation by the Senate’s disbursing office initiated at his request found he improperly billed taxpayers for his hotel stays for all but seven years during his time in office, amounting to $14,684.85. He cut a personal check paying off that amount on Friday.

“Your office has compiled a comprehensive list documenting cases in which I incurred per diem expenses during trips that included a stop in Indianapolis … during August recess periods and sine die adjournments,” Lugar said in a letter to Christopher Doby, financial clerk of the Senate. “Vouchers for per diem expenses incurred in the Indianapolis area during these periods should not have been submitted or paid, even though they all pertained to official business.”

Lugar suggests he paid more back to the Senate out of an abundance of caution. Lugar’s admission came after he acknowledged last week that he erroneously billed taxpayers $4,500 for hotel stays after a review by his staff of records dating back to 1991. He began the inquiry after POLITICO asked about the matter, and later acknowledged the errors.

The Washington watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Senate ethics complaint on Thursday for Lugar’s failure to abide by the rules. Lugar’s camp called the complaint politically motivated.


The disclosure will likely only add fuel to the fire ahead of his tough May primary challenge against treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has accused the senior senator of being out of touch with the state since he has not owned a residence there since 1977. If he loses his primary, Democrats believe they’ll have renewed life in the red state, with Rep. Joe Donnelly as their candidate.

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