Former Vice President Joe Biden, who often pitches himself as ‘Middle Class Joe’ on the campaign trail, has spent more than $256,000 on private plane travel since announcing his presidential campaign.
According to filings made public by the Federal Election Commission, Biden’s campaign made four payments totaling $256,798 to Advanced Aviation, a private jet charter based out of Arlington, Virginia.
Although little information is available regarding where the former vice president flew via the company, the trips likely took place during the month of May, as that is when Biden’s campaign made the payments. The first payment, coming only a week after Biden entered the presidential race, was a May 2-3 trip costing more than $123,000. Two other payments were made on May 10 and May 31 for a combined total of more than $133,000.
It is unclear if the payments were for more than four trips or what type of aircraft Biden’s campaign chartered. Advanced Aviation, which bills itself as providing “presidential level services,” allows individuals to charter eight different styles of aircraft, including helicopters and airliners with the capacity to transport 200 passengers.
The campaign’s decision to rely on private air travel is surprising considering the criticism Biden leveled at both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“It’s a seven hour ride from Chicago, I apologize—and I don’t have a plane,” Biden said in 2007 upon arriving late at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum in Iowa. The remark was widely seen as a rebuke of both Obama and Clinton, who had traveled to the event by chartered plane.
Even before jumping into the presidential race, Biden had showcased a taste for luxury air travel. In January, The New York Times reported that Biden often demanded private jets ferry him to and from speaking engagements.
For one such speech at the University of Utah, Biden’s public relations teams requested an additional $10,000 —on top of his $100,000 speaking fee — to accommodate the former vice president’s travel requirements.
Biden’s “contract with the University of Utah, obtained through the state’s freedom of information act, was for $100,000, plus $10,000 for the private plane,” the Times reported. “In an October email between university officials, one told the other that an agent for Mr. Biden had described that as a discount.”
The paper, however, noted that was only one demand Biden had for his speech to the school’s student body.
The University “would buy 1,000 copies of his recent memoir from a designated vendor,” the Times reported. “There would be no insertion of the word ‘former’ before ‘vice president’ in social media promotions.”
The revelation of Biden’s private jet travel comes to light as the former vice president is attempting to paint himself as the only Democrat capable of winning back working class voters in 2020.
“I’m called middle-class Joe. It’s not meant as a compliment. It means I’m not sophisticated,” Biden is known to say on the campaign trail. “But I know what made this country what it is, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Despite the claims, Biden’s tax returns for the past two years show he is a multi-millionaire who earned than $15.6 million since leaving the White House.
The money has allowed the former vice president, who was once known as the poorest member of Congress, to upgrade his lifestyle substantially, including the rental of a 11,750 square foot Georgian-style mansion overlooking the Potomac River in McLean, Virginia.