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Air Graves

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) highlights a Roll Call report about U.S. Rep. Sam Graves' use of a contributor's airplane to travel throughout his large rural district, and his failure to disclose the use of the plane in his House reports. Graves has benefited from possibly thousands of dollars worth of free flights owned by a contracting firm that is also a major financial contributor to Graves' campaigns. St. Joseph, Mo., -based Herzog Comanies Inc. is the second largest contributor to Graves over his career, having given the congressman over $75,000 since 1989. How can Graves' failure to disclose these gifts not have been a violation of House ethics rules?

Last month, Roll Call raised questions regarding other flights Herzog provided Graves on its airplanes. Prime Buzz, the political blog of The Kansas City Star, reprinted the subscription-only article. Graves' financial reports list flights on Herzog corporate jets to attend NASCAR races in Florida. Graves's records term the flights as gifts from a personal friend. House ethics rules did allow members and their staff to receive gifts from friends, but requires that member receive prior approval from the ethics committee for any gift valued over $250. But as Roll Call points out, the jets are owned by a corporation, not an individual...And corporations don't have friends.

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