After a fairly ‘restless’ couple of weeks in Australian politics, I thought I’d catch up on what’s happening in America.
Beyond the usual sludge of Trump’s latest moves – which included ignoring John McCain’s funeral, while former Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush attended – there are some interesting goings-on with politicians shamelessly spending public money.
It’s an issue we’re all too familiar with here in Australia… We not only fork out millions of taxpayer dollars towards current sitting pollies, but we also fund lavish lifestyles of Prime Ministers and MPs past.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
John Howard, for instance, is a massive spendthrift: he charged taxpayers more than $72,400 for flights around Australia, car costs, and for office facilities and administration costs in 2007. And that was just for the first 3 months of the year!
There is an eye-watering array of outrageous ways that our elected leaders have spent taxpayer dollars.
But in the States, it’s a Republican representative for California called Duncan Hunter who is currently in the headlines. He and his wife appear to have been using his campaign coffers as a personal slush fund, splashing out on ski trips, overseas holidays and even toys and kids clothes from Target.
A family day out at Seaworld, for instance, was claimed and classified as an “educational tour”. More than $200 spent at Disneyland on merch was charged as “food and beverages”.
And the worst one of all: the Hunters spent over $14k on a family trip to Italy, and while on the trip, they tried to set up a tour of a U.S. Naval facility so they would have a credible ‘visit’ to hang their cash claim on.
When the Navy couldn’t accommodate them on a certain date, the politician’s wife Margaret Hunter allegedly told Hunter’s chief of staff to “tell the Navy to go f**k themselves.”
No tour took place – yet they still claimed the funds for their expensive holiday, which Margaret told a friend was “truly our best family trip so far”.
It’s this staggering display of entitlement and flagrant disrespect that voters have had enough of.
And in America, at least, there is recourse: the Hunters are now facing federal charges of using at least $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, as well as falsifying campaign records. They claim they have repaid any mis-claimed funds.
Whether our own pollies closer to home will start treating our public purse with more respect remains to be seen…