Judge mulls lawsuit seeking to kick Trump backers off ballot

FILE - Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., waits for a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, on July 22, 2021. A judge in Phoenix on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, was considering whether to throw out a lawsuit against two Republican congressmen and a GOP state House member running to be Arizona's top election official that alleges they are ineligible for the November ballot because they participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that ended with an unprecedented attack on Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Prescott Republican Congressman Paul Gosar spent more than $7,800 for travel, lodging and vehicle expenses while attending events with far-right groups and white nationalists, according to a review of the congressman’s finances by a nonpartisan watchdog group.

The Moonlight Foundation conducted a review of congressional travel that showed Gosar has spent more on travel than any other congressman in the past five years. An additional review of the data by CNN found he has spent nearly $1 million on travel since 2016 — including having taxpayers pay for his trip to speak at a white nationalist conference in Florida in 2021.

Gosar was the first sitting politician to attend the America First Political Action Conference, or AFPAC for short, that is organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes who Gosar is now attempting to distance himself from.

Gosar spent nearly $3,500 to travel to Florida with his chief of staff Tom Van Flein to attend both the Conservative Political Action Conference and AFPAC. While there, the pair billed an additional $1,000 in hotel rooms. Gosar also charged the government an additional $1,000 for what appears to be a single day vehicle rental during that week.

In July 2018, Gosar came under scrutiny for having a lengthy dinner with Belgian official Filip DeWinter, a leader in the far-right Flemish Nationalist party that traces its roots back the Vlaams Blok, which sought to collaborate with the Nazis in WWII.

Gosar was speaking with DeWinter about an anti-Muslim activist who was jailed in the United Kingdom for breaking rules barring reporting on ongoing court cases. Initially, Gosar told a house ethics committee that a group named the Middle East Forum had paid for the trip. However, an analysis by CNN found he charged taxpayers $2,300 in commercial travel expenses.

A day after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Gosar charged $1,787 on commercial transportation, the Moonlight Foundation found.

A spokesman for Gosar’s office told CNN that the expenses were all within the realm of official activity and have been reviewed both “in-house” and by the House of Representatives. However, lawmaker spending is largely protected from public scrutiny, as expenses are filed under general categories such as “commercial transportation” or “travel.”

Gosar has far outspent other members of Arizona’s delegation. Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs spent only $69,000 in 2021 and David Schweikert spent just $47,000.

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