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Bill Would Strip Governor Of Jet

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Mississippi Democrats have introduced a bill in the state legislature to strip Gov. Haley Barbour of his use of the state's Cessna Citation amid growing scrutiny of the flamboyant potential presidential candidate's use of the aircraft. Critics allege many of the trips Barbour takes with the jet have more to do with his presidential ambitions or personal interests. Although Barbour does reimburse the state for some use of the plane, Democrats claim to have uncovered flights paid for by the state that they say are thinly veiled personal or political junkets.

In one case, the plane was dispatched to Las Vegas to pick up Barbour after he hosted a political fundraiser in which donors of $5,000 to his political action committee got a spin around the track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a stock car and drinks with gambling mogul Steve Wynn. Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the real purpose of the stop in Las Vegas was to get fuel. Turner has repeatedly defended Barbour's use of the plane, saying it's part of the governor's vigorous campaign to promote the state. "Gov. Barbour is an effective marketing tool in a state that really needs it," [Turner] said in an email to Politico.com. "In other states, people don't necessarily appreciate the idea of a governor being so outgoing about promoting the state, whether it's in Congress or in boardrooms."

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