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A Columbia, S.C. television station has published a sprawling report examining the extent to which elected officials in the Palmetto State are abusing the state’s two taxpayer-funded aircraft. And while most of the information contained in the WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) report has already been covered by other outlets – including this exclusive report published by FITS – the station does a good job of pulling a lot of previous stories together into one broad treatment.

It also exposes the total lack of accountability over the process – including a statement from the head of the S.C. Division of Aeronautics in which he acknowledges that there is no official definition of “state business” to govern use of the plane.

Crazy, huh?

As a result we have S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – who is in all sorts of other plane-related trouble – using one of the state aircraft to fly to the 2012 Apple Festival in Westminster, South Carolina.

Harrell isn’t alone in abusing the plane – S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has repeatedly used it for political purposes. And of course there’s former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, who habitually abused this privilege.

As we’ve previously suggested, the state should sell these aircraft, put the proceeds into a taxpayer rebate fund (assuming lawmakers ever create one) and then insist on tighter state travel guidelines aimed at ending the rampant abuse we’ve seen from our elected officials.

Otherwise we will continue to see our leaders wasting our money on frivolous travel …

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