Transatlantic gravy trains

The race between George W. Bush and John Kerry is set to become the most expensive US presidential election in history at $1.2 billion, a report on campaign spending said on Thursday, the Financial Times reported. Taken together, the presidential and congressional elections will cost $3.9 billion, up 30 per cent from the $3 billion spent on elections four years ago.

This year’s elections “will shatter previous records for spending, and the biggest reason is the increase in giving by individuals to candidates and parties”, said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, the nonpartisan group that published the report.

Financial Times | US presidential race costliest in history (registration required)

In the UK, details of the expense claims for the 659 members of Parliament (MPs) were made public for the first time on Thursday, BBC News reported. MPs are paid a salary of £57,000 and can claim twice as much again for expenses. Details were published on the UK Parliament website.

Sir Archy Kirkwood MP, for the House of Commons Commission, said: “This is a significant step towards openness and accountability and I welcome it.” He added: “It’s the first time that we have ever published so much information. The taxpayer can really see how their money is being spent.”

BBC News | UK | MPs’ expense accounts laid bare