The Justice Department recently revamped the rules governing out-of-state travel for U.S. Attorneys, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The newspaper also found that former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan spent more than half of her tenure on the road, spending 1,047 days on travel.
In March, the DOJ changed travel regulations for U.S. Attorneys, requiring approval for out-of-district travel from the Director or Deputy Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys. The change followed a DOJ review of travel by all U.S. Attorneys. Previously, U.S. Attorneys were permitted to approve their own travel and obtain post-travel approval from the EOUSA.
“The previous policies and procedures were admittedly inconsistent,” DOJ spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz told the newspaper. “Changes to the process were made to ensure full compliance with departmental travel policies and procedure and to strengthen controls and oversight of U.S. Attorney travel.”
Travel expenses were an issue in last year’s New Jersey governor’s race. Incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain travel records for his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, showing he often exceeded his government allowance and stayed in luxury hotels while serving as the state’s chief federal prosecutor. Corzine’s camp also accused Christie allies in the U.S. Attorney’s office of failing to comply in a timely manner with the FOIA request for his travel records. Christie won the election.
In her eight years as the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Buchanan took at least 347 trips that cost taxpayers more than $450,000, the Post-Gazette reported. According to the newspaper DOJ officials would not specifically address Buchanan’s travel or how it compared to travel by other U.S. Attorneys.
Buchanan resigned Nov. 16, 2009, to run for the Republication nomination for the 4th congressional district in Pennsylvania. She lost that race in May to former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus.
This story has been updated.