by Jim Nintzel
Republican Jonathan Paton, who is one of four GOP candidates who hope to take out Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in November, cashed in a lot of miles on his most recent campaign-finance report as an Arizona Senate candidate.
Paton, who announced on Jan. 17 that he’d be running for U.S. Congress instead of pursuing re-election to the Arizona Senate, is closing out his Senate campaign account, which had $12,220 in it at the start of year.
As part of the wrap-up, Paton reimbursed himself for $8,350 in mileage expenses from the state campaign account, in five payments: $250 on Feb. 4, $3,000 on Feb. 9, $3,000 on Feb. 19, $1,100 on March 4 and $1,000 on March 24.
At the standard reimbursement rate of 54 cents a mile, that comes out to 15,463 miles.
Paton, who resigned from his $24,000-a-year job as a state senator on Feb. 22, says the reimbursements cover the miles he drove around the district in 2009 to Green Valley, Sierra Vista and other areas in-between to meet with constituents.
“I thought I was going to be running a Senate race and I didn’t want to pay myself back as much as I owed myself because I could use that money for other stuff, like messaging,” says Paton, who put so many miles on his last Honda Civic that it died on him last year and he ended up leasing a new one. “When I realized I wasn’t going to be running for re-election, I finally reimbursed myself.”
In a campaign finance report covering Nov. 25, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2009, Paton claimed $5,527 in mileage expenses and $5,262 in other traveling expenses.
Paton faces political newcomers Jesse Kelly and Brian Miller and metal-shop owner Jay Quick in the Aug. 24 GOP primary.