Taking Trips

by TChris

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 5½-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.

The worst offender, according to the study: Rep. Tom DeLay. Second worst: Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. But members of both parties are guilty of taking free trips, and they don't always pay attention to the weak ethics rules that govern them.

The analysis found many apparent violations of ethics rules. Disclosure forms show, for example, that at least 90 trips, valued at about $145,000, were sponsored or co-sponsored by firms registered to lobby the federal government. Ethics rules do not allow lobbyists to pay for congressional travel.

Here's the evil:

Even if no favors are done for a sponsor, said Dennis Thompson, a professor of government at Harvard University, the trips "violate the principle of fairness. In order to get this special kind of access, you have to pay a lot of money."

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  • Re: Taking Trips (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jlvngstn on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 11:32:36 AM EST
    Who were the traitors going to Paris? Did they wear buttons on their trip that said "Liberators prefer Freedom Fries" ???

    Re: Taking Trips (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 03:23:49 PM EST
    One of my former stepfathers was a con-man kind of school administrator, who was always taking "staff development" trips to Jamaica or Hawaii or Cabo, all taxpayer financed. These congressional "trips" are a different version of the same game -- greed for sale. The companies pay for the travel, we pay for the results.