ATLANTA -- While campaigning to win the Republican Senate nomination this spring, Congressman Jack Kingston of Savannah held an event in Jackson County. In it, he suggested that children who get free lunches from the federal government sweep floors in exchange.
"Why don't you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel, to instill in them that there is in fact no such thing as a free lunch. Or maybe have them sweep the floor in the cafeteria," Kingston says in a video posted to Youtube.
In the video, Kingston said twice that there's "no such thing as a free lunch."
But maybe there is. Our sister station in Savannah, WSAV, looked through three years worth of Jack Kingston's public records -- and documented free meals for him, his staff and his backers.
Over those three years, they found that taxpayers bought meals for him and his congressional staff worth $4182.
For Kingston's overseas travel over three years, they found taxpayers picked up per diem expenses worth $24,313.
And they found that Kingston's campaign bought $145,391.26 worth of meals and catering, paid by campaign donors.
Kingston's free meals are very similar to what one would find poring through the records of any congressman or well funded candidate. Kingston's campaign spokesman has said Kingston's free lunch remark was about instilling a strong work ethic in the next generation.
Kingston's spokesman said he was unavailable for comment Friday. Kingston told WSAV "It's hard in today's society to have a discussion where you want to challenge the status quo because of the 'I gotcha' politics."