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Minnesota Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson personally charged taxpayers $39,113 for auto mileage reimbursements in the last Congress between 2017 and 2019, records obtained by Fox News show.
The congressman representing Minnesota’s 7th District also billed his campaign $9,048 for mileage over the same time period, including $8,349 for mileage on his private, single-engine airplane.
The average Minnesota delegation member personally billed taxpayers $2,290.76 for auto mileage during the last Congress, disbursement documents show.
Republicans have previously criticized Peterson for his travel expenses; in 2014, the GOP spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on attack ads that highlighted Peterson’s travel expenses for two Ford Focus vehicles, as well as his plane, when he was facing then-Republican challenger Torrey Westrom.
The congressman, 76, has charged taxpayers nearly $190,000 in personal auto mileage reimbursements between 2009 and 2019.
“The car mileage would be about 75 percent of what the plane mileage would be,” Peterson said in a September 2014 interview with online newspaper MinnPost.com. “But instead of four hours to Pipestone [a town in the southern reaches of his district], it’s one hour.”
Members of Congress who were in office in 2018 received between $1.2 million and $1.9 million in Members’ Representational Allowances, according to the Congressional Institute.
Members may only use MRAs for official and representational expenses and can be reimbursed for travel expenses, including leased vehicles and rentals, subject to certain restrictions.
Peterson would have to drive 31,000 miles per year on official business to reach more than $39,000 in reimbursements for auto mileage during the last Congress, meaning he would have to drive 208 miles per day during the 170-or-so days he is traveling in Minnesota.
In 2017, Congress was in session for 192 legislative days, meaning that Peterson spent 173 days maximum in Minnesota. The congressman was reimbursed for more than $19,500 for driving 36,500 miles that year, or 210 miles every day when he was home.
But Minnesota’s 7th District is expansive, reaching 31,796 total square miles from the Canadian border to the southern part of the state and covering almost the entire western side of the state. It could take more than six hours to drive from the northernmost part of the district to the southernmost part.
Peterson is facing Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach, who became Minnesota’s first female Senate president in 2018. President Trump endorsed Fischbach in March and asked Minnesotans to vote for her in the state’s Primary Election in August.