Ophelia Ford leads state senators in traveling expenses - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Janice Broach

Ophelia Ford leads state senators in traveling expenses

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tough economic times had Tennessee state employees tightening their belts. They were ordered in May not to travel on the state's dime. But state representatives and senators were not so penny wise.

An investigation of travel expenses by lawmakers showed Tennessee state legislators spent more than $100,000 in taxpayer money to travel all over the United States.

"A sensitivity to taxpayers, that's what's missing," taxpayer advocate Ben Cunningham said.

The state pays lawmakers a daily per diem when they travel to conferences and reimburses them for hotel and airfare.

The biggest traveler by far, State Senator Ophelia Ford. 

Between June and September, taxpayers paid her to fly to five different conferences in Des Moines, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

At a cost of $12,030.

Last year, Senator Ford requested more than $4,000 in travel reimbursements, mainly for flights from Memphis to Nashville.

She attended less than half of the 2007-2008 legislative session.

"Some taxpayers worked damn hard out there for this money. Lawmakers have got to prove they know how to spend our money," Cunningham said. "I think most people consider travel a bit of a luxury. It's something that you don't have to do."

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.

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