As members of Congress head home for the holidays -- or not, depending on the state of negotiations over the fiscal cliff -- we decided to revisit House Speaker John Boehner's pledge to take commercial flights back and forth to his Ohio district, rather than a military jet.
Boehner has been in Congress since 1991, and when he ascended to the top leadership post in 2010, he vowed to continue the practice he's maintained since elected. "Over the last 20 years, I have flown back and forth to my district on commercial aircraft, and I'm going to continue to do that,” he said.
That was a departure from the practice of his predecessor, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was criticized for using military jets to fly home to California.
When we checked on this pledge in March 2012, we noted media reports detailing Boehner's trips through airports, and his reiteration of the pledge after the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011.
But we were short on records, and still are. We have asked Boehner's office repeatedly for records of his commercial flights and have been turned down.
"As we've discussed before, you have no evidence to indicate he is not keeping his word,” his spokesman, Michael Steel, told PolitiFact in an email in November.
True enough. But we expect public officials to provide evidence they are keeping their word. In the absence of that, we made a Freedom of Information Act request for any records of Boehner taking military flights.
The Air National Guard FOIA Requestor Service Center replied that "they did not find any military aircraft requests for travel during that time period.”
The letter said that the office also contacted the Air Force District of Washington, Air Mobility Command, Special Air Missions and Headquarters Air Force, all of which also found no flights involving Boehner between Washington and Ohio. The searches extended back one year, which is how long records are required to be retained.
So, it's clear Boehner is not using military jets. We'd still like to hear from any readers who encounter him on a commercial flight -- snap a picture and send it to us! -- but we're satisfied enough to rate this a Promise Kept.