• Shumlin agrees to reimburse for state plane use
     | February 21,2013

    MONTPELIER — The campaign of Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has agreed to reimburse the state for the cost of a flight on the state’s airplane that delivered him to a campaign rally last September.

    Shumlin had made other flights on state business last Sept. 27 before he asked to be flown to Middlebury rather than to the plane’s home base at the Berlin airport outside of Montpelier so he could attend a campaign fundraiser in Lincoln.

    The Agency of Transportation valued the cost of the Lyndonville-to-Middlebury leg at $65.80.

    Shumlin’s Deputy Chief of Staff Susan Allen said Tuesday the administration requested reimbursement from the campaign “to err on the side of caution.”

    “The question was raised and we could argue about it,” Allen said. “But we’re not going to argue about it.”

    But Vermont Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley said it was troubling the state sought reimbursement only after the details of the flight became public.

    “Vermonters need to be concerned when they see the governor begin to use his office to access state resources and use them for his personal benefit,” Lindley said. “It’s a scary mentality to see taking hold.”

    The governor made five flights on airplane last year. Allen has said that prior to that the governor didn’t know the state had an airplane.

    Aviation officials within the Transportation Agency had sought to replace the 50-year-old Cessna 172 with a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron that would be purchased through a $1.5 million lease-to-own deal. The request has since been withdrawn after lawmakers objected to what they saw as an extravagant purchase during tough times.

    The Cessna needs at least $83,000 in maintenance and upgrades to remain safe.

    Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said the plane has been grounded.

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