DENISH USED STATE PLANES 143 TIMES,
The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, uses state aircraft far less than New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson and Lt. Governor Diane Denish. An investigation by Texas Watchdog found the Texas Governor uses state aircraft “sparingly,” reserving use of the planes for emergency or state business requiring transportation of large numbers of people for long distances, thus making the use of state aircraft cost effective. Texas Watchdog, no lap dog for politicians of any affiliation in the Lone Star State, called Perry’s use of state aircraft “spartan.”
Richardson and Denish, by contrast, have been found by Thom Cole, investigative reporter for The Albuquerque Journal, and this site, to be frequent fliers in state aircraft. Taxpayers have paid more than $208,000 for Denish’s use of state planes. Records from the New Mexico General Services Department show Denish used state aircraft 143 times between April 1, 2003 and November 9, 2009. Both politicians have used state aircraft to attend parades, and brief ceremonies and meetings. They fly at times alone or with one staff person. The hourly rate on the state’s newest jet exceeds $1,200 an hour for the plane and two pilots.
We found that Denish spent more more than $50,000 in federal stimulus funds to fly herself, staff, and family around New Mexico. None of Denish’s flights were for emergencies.