-- Was Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is locked in a bitter battle for a U.S. Senate seat runoff, getting paid by taxpayers for work he didn't do?
That's the allegation raised after the release of new documents about the GOP candidate's part-time job as a professor of medicine at Louisiana State University during his time in Congress.
The documents, first published Tuesday by the Louisiana news website The American Zombie, have become a late campaign issue for Cassidy just two weeks before he heads to a runoff election against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu. Among the documents released is a collection of timesheets that indicate Cassidy worked as few as seven hours in one month for his part-time teaching job that earned him $2,000 a month in addition to his Congressional salary.
But in an interview with ABC News, Cassidy brushed aside the notion that he has been getting paid for work he hadn’t done.
“I don’t earn more money by recording hours, I am on salary,” Cassidy told ABC News. “All I am trying to do is let LSU know what I am doing, I get the same no matter what I do.”
Cassidy, who worked as a doctor for two decades before being elected to Congress in 2008 and was employed by LSU at the time of his election, obtained permission through the House Ethics Committee to continue working part-time as a professor on the condition that his additional earnings not exceed $25,000 a year.
A series of emails among LSU employees, also obtained through the document release, detail that Cassidy would be expected to carry 20 percent of his previous workload and hours for 20 percent of his full-time salary, amounting to about 30 hours of work for $2,000 a month.
Landrieu’s campaign has seized on the new documents, suggesting that Cassidy may have been double-dipping with his two taxpayer-funded jobs.
“Congressman Cassidy may have taken home over $100,000 in taxpayer funds for work he never did,” Landrieu campaign Communications Director Fabien Levy said in a statement. “Most people don’t get paid enough for the work they do, let alone for the work they don’t do. But it seems Congressman Cassidy got a pat on the back and a check in the bank.”
But Cassidy said his detractors have a “non-issue” with this new line of attack.
“They’re trying to make something out of a service to humanity,” Cassidy said. “There’s a guy in New Iberia, Louisiana, who has a brother who is alive because I am allowed to do this.”
Cassidy has been on a leave of absence from LSU since April, as he focuses on his Senate campaign, but said he hopes to pick back up his teaching role if elected on Dec. 6.
“I would love to teach,” Cassidy said. “I am the only liver doctor in the LSU charity system -- this is for the uninsured and those on Medicaid…I am the only liver doctor for hundreds of thousands of patients.”
Asked about specific dates on his timesheets when he recorded hours working for LSU but was also on Capitol Hill for votes the same day, Cassidy said that his LSU teaching responsibilities were fulfilled remotely from DC on days when there were conflicting votes.
Cassidy said that, for example, he has provided “resident supervision” for LSU medical students on health policy rotations in Washington, D.C.
One such student is LSU resident Claude Pirtel, who spent a month in the district earlier this year and worked with Cassidy on a project that studied the implications of the Affordable Care Act on health policy.
“Two or three times a week, we’d sit down and talk about health policy and work on projects pertaining to Louisiana,” Pirtel told ABC News of his time working with Cassidy, which he described as one of “best experiences” of his time in medical school.
On other occasions, when votes weren't scheduled until late in the day, Cassidy said he would sometimes supervise a resident clinic in Louisiana before getting on a plane to head to Washington. Cassidy recalled one day when his morning began in an operating room in Baton Rouge and he finished his day at a White House party.
“I did a liver biopsy in the morning on an inmate, who was chained to a bed at the public hospital, took off my gloves, got a ride to the airport to go to DC, went to Capitol Hill and voted, and then changed into a tuxedo and went to a White House Christmas party,” he recalled. “It was a juxtaposition of life experience that few would have.”