If it's important for an elected representative or staffer to take a "fact-finding" trip, it's reasonable for taxpayers to pay for the trip. If the trip isn't in the public interest, the politician or staffer should stay home, or pay for the trip out of his or her own pocket.
Over a 5Â½-year period ending in 2005, members of Congress and their aides took at least 23,000 trips -- valued at almost $50 million -- financed by private sponsors, many of them corporations, trade associations and nonprofit groups with business on Capitol Hill. ...
A nine-month analysis of congressional disclosure forms for travel from January 2000 through June 2005 done by the Center for Public Integrity, American Public Media and Northwestern University's Medill News Service turned up thousands of costly excursions -- at least 200 trips to Paris, 150 to Hawaii and 140 to Italy.
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