The Iowa Steak Fry spent more than $50,000 flying Bill and Hillary Clinton to the Democratic event outside Des Moines in September honoring retiring Sen. Tom Harkin.
New financial disclosure forms to the Federal Election Commission shows the committee that organized the event made a $50,099 payment for “travel expenses” to Executive Fliteways Inc, a Long Island, NY based charter jet company. According to Bloomberg News, the payment was for the former first couple.
It was the second largest single expense for the Steak Fry, after food.
Executive Fliteways offers a range of private planes, from a smaller Learjet 35, which goes for $2350 an hour, to a Gulfstream G-V, which rents for $7,500 per hour. A contract obtained this summer by the Las Vegas Review Journal for an unrelated speech shows that Clinton's team requests “a Gulfstream 450 or larger jet.”
Clinton’s previous campaigns have came under fire -- including from donors -- for lavish spending. Her 2006 Senate re-election campaign, which faced only moderate Republican opposition, spent $160,000 on private jet travel, along with three-quarters of a million dollars on catering and entertaining, $13,000 on flowers, and $27,000 on valet parking.
The year-end finance report from Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign shows a payment of almost $110,000 to Executive Fliteways. The campaign, like all other major presidential efforts, also had larger chartered plane for the candidate, staffers, and reporters.
Clinton's defenders said the investment was well worth it. “The Harkin Streak Fry reportedly netted $100,000 and was enormously successful due to the Clintons’ attendance. This right-wing attack is ironic coming from the Party where one potential presidential candidate used a state police helicopter to get to a baseball game while another double-billed taxpayers and the state party for multiple plane tickets.”," said Correct the Record's Adrienne Elrod, referring to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
A new poll released on Wednesday shows that while Clinton’s foreign policy record, a major issue in 2008, is unlikely to turn off Iowa Democratic caucus-goers if she runs again in 2016, her ties to Wall Street could be a problem. The first state in the presidential nominating process went for Obama in 2008, fatally wounding Clinton's presidential ambitions that year.
The former secretary of state is openly considering a second presidential run, and has said she will announce her plans sometime early next year.