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Riley hasnít reimbursed state for flight 4 months ago

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Gov. Bob Riley has not yet reimbursed the state for taking a state plane to a Republican political fundraiser more than four months ago.

On April 2, Riley, senior adviser Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, official photographer Robin Cooper and aide Nathan Lindsay flew from Montgomery to Birmingham aboard a plane owned by the state environmental agency, according to the agencyís flight records.

They attended a fundraiser for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, at The Club in Birmingham.

Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at the event.

The unpaid flight was first reported by The Birmingham News on Tuesday.

State law allows the governor to use state vehicles and aircraft for political purposes, but he or his campaign must reimburse the state.

Delays not unusual

He has reimbursed the state in the past for such use.

But Riley has not yet reimbursed the state for the flight aboard the 12-seat Cessna or posted the flight on his Web site, where he lists flights aboard state planes by himself and his staff.

Communications Director Jeff Emerson said Riley will do both and that such delays are not unusual.

He said the governor had not received a bill for the flight, but he expects the matter to be taken care of soon.

The plane, a Cessna 208, was provided by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

ADEM spokesman Scott Hughes said Tuesday the state Department of Transportation called ADEM, seeking the plane April 2.

He said ADEM provides the Department of Transportation with 25 hours of flight time per year in return for DOT providing hangar and maintenance services, and ADEM considered the flight to be part of the DOTís flying time.

Asked why the governorís campaign was not billed, Hughes said, ďThatís an issue between DOT and the governorís office.Ē


Hughes said the flight took 1.2 hours and ADEM normally charges state agencies other than the Department of Transportation $600 per hour for use of its plane.

DOT spokesman Tony Harris said the governor normally
informs the department when he intends to use one of its planes for political purposes, and then he reimburses the department.

In this case, DOT apparently assumed ADEM would do the billing for $720, and ADEM assumed DOT would, he said.

ďItís getting worked out,Ē he said.

Emerson said Riley had ori-ginally planned to take a plane operated by the state Department of Public Safety, but it
was unavailable at the last minute.

By that point, it was too late to drive and ADEM had the only plane available, Emerson said Tuesday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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