WASHINGTON -- As a latecomer to the 2012 presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has a lot of ground to cover -- and he's covering it in private jets.
Forms filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission reveal that Perry's campaign spent $276,424.03 on private chartered jets during just six weeks from the August 13 launch of his campaign to the end of September.
That figure is nearly nine times the $33,657.25 his campaign spent on commercial air travel during the same period.
The sum also dwarfs the private jet spending of GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, who reported $135,083 in private jet expenses during the three months ending September 30. Another high-flyer, Michele Bachmann, spent over $130,000 with D.C.-area based Moby Dick Airways, Ltd.
Perry has positioned himself as a belt-tightening fiscal conservative, and in his 2010 book Fed Up! he railed against lawmakers who "see no problem with spending other people's money."
The spending underscores how much traveling Perry has done while attempting to make up for his late entry into the GOP race. But its also consistent with the luxurious lifestyle spending that has gotten Perry in hot water before. Since 2007, state taxpayers have paid rent totaling nearly $600,000 on a five-bedroom mansion the Perry family has lived in while the official governor's mansion undergoes renovations. This figure included $1,000 for draperies from Neiman Marcus.
The bulk of Perry's private jet spending has gone to a jet rental brokerage company called Air Charter Team, which received $140,288 less than a week after Perry announced his campaign. The company's homepage reads, "Looking for luxury? We know VIP airliners." The other five companies Perry's campaign paid jet fees to are Sun Air Jets, Reynolds Jet Management, Friedkin Aviation, Aspect Aviation, and Goldsmith Team LLC, a jet rental company. The fees range from $19,637 all the way up to Air Charter Team's fee.
Jet charter brokers do not actually own the jets they broker, but instead monitor the complicated movements of independent jet operators in and out of airports across the country. Clients can call up and relay their travel needs and companies like Air Charter Team will offer them a range of options, for which customers pay with travel credits. It is unclear how many of his credits Perry has used up, and a spokesman for the Perry campaign declined to comment on the jet expenses.
This isn't the first time that Perry's private jet fees have exceeded the norm. In 2006, his campaign racked up nearly $90,000 for private jets Perry used during his reelection bid, according to Texas Ethics Commission campaign finance reports.
For more details about Rick Perry's presidential campaign, check out this slideshow.
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