Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Members of Congress Fly Away Free to Emerald Isle on $450K-$750K Trip

The first two of possibly 31 members of Congress have returned and filed a travel report on a wonderful and free trip to Dublin, Ireland, for themselves and a guest. The gifts of free travel were estimated by the paying sponsors to cost between $6,875 and $11,903 for each person.

The vacation time invitees were most of the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives, including the speaker*, majority leader, majority whip, eight committee chairmen, and five subcommittee chairmen.  We don’t know how many invitees actually went on the trip and while invited, the Speaker did not go.

This type of free trip not only covers the members’ expenses but provides a rare opportunity for the sponsor to cover the costs of a spouse or family member. For members who are not home that much, the free trip is a great payback to the spouse. The spouse or family member has plenty of time for sightseeing and enjoying the foreign city.

The Ripon Society and the Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange sponsored and paid for the Aug. 10-15 trip with an estimated budget of $450,000 to $750,000. The purpose of the trip was to meet with Irish officials and discuss political, economic and trade relations. With an average of only four hours of daily scheduled sessions (probably no attendance taken), the schedule also highlights visits to the Guinness Storehouse, Leinster House – The Irish Parliament, Dublin castle, Powerscourt Gardens, Newman House, Christ Church Cathedral, among others.

Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., was the first to file his travel disclosure form and reported he and his spouse had $8,875 in expenses for the sponsors to pay. Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., reported he and his son incurred $15,310 in expenses for the sponsors.

Besides Lucas and Larson, 29 other members of Congress were invited. Overall, invitees included 24 Republicans and 7 Democrats.

Republicans invited included Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; John A. Boehner*, R-Ohio; Kevin Brady*, R-Texas; Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas; Dave Camp, R-Mich.; Eric Cantor, R-Va.; Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Robert W. Goodlatte*, R-Va.; Kay Granger*, R-Texas; Lynn Jenkins*, R-Kan.; Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla.; Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Michael McCaul, R-Texas; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; Harold Rogers, R-Ky.; Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Steve Scalise, R-La.; Pete Sessions, R-Texas; Bill Shuster, R-Pa.; Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio; Fred Upton, R-Mich.; and Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Democrats invited included Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo.; Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill.; Ron Kind, D-Wis.; John B. Larson, D-Conn.; Richard E. Neal, D-Mass.; and Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J.

Three staff members were also invited, including Michael Sommers* (chief of staff, Office of Speaker John A. Boehner), Steve Strombres (chief of staff, Office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor), and Tim Berry (chief of staff, Office of Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy).

Update: A spokesperson for the Speaker stated Speaker Boehner nor his chief of staff accepted the invitation to go on the trip. We have learned Rep. Robert Goodlatte, Rep. Granger, Rep. Kevin Brady, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins did not go on the trip.


To search detailed money-in-politics databases, visit Political MoneyLine.

  • hippie1367

    Nice to see bribe taking is the one area of bipartisanship in govt that still exists – each of these thieving pieces of filth should be guillotined

  • Lorenzo

    Nothing a sitting elected representative of government receives in kind should be considered “free”. If travel and expenses are not related to the duties of the office regarding state or federal government business, then it should be considered a contribution and reported as such, or an out of pocket expense.

  • wiseoldsnail

    my yearly income on disability

  • Don’t trust

    It’s called a “bribe”…

  • Chrisbam

    Not tax dollars so what’s the point?

  • dragontech64

    Google search shows a report that the Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange is a “non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to enhancing global understanding of important international issues” ANY group that is giving thousands of dollars of “GIMME’s” to members of Congress has their own agenda in mind, not the needs of the constituents of these same Congresspeople. And that they would then be working AGAINST the needs of their own is just sickening.

  • Jski

    Does the nonprofit get government dollars? That’s the point.

  • Kathleen Krzywicki

    Here’s what these glutens , these self serving , greedy congressmen/women should do …. vote FOR the poor in their districts or forever be thought of as useless & inept ! Go back to your state and retire. Let some one with some compassion get voted in to office. Shame on you all that cannot bring yourselves to go with what’s right for EVERYONE not just your rich & influential backs.

  • BigJared

    501(c)’s need lots of fixing. They shouldn’t be tax-exempt let alone charities and their donors shouldn’t be anonymous.

  • BigJared

    Tax-exempt dollars! Which in this case is 6 of one, half dozen of the other.

  • Carrie

    Lynn Jenkins needs an asterisk by her name in the original list since she ended up not going.

  • Kent Cooper

    Asterisk added. Thanks for letting us know.

  • dragontech64

    I agree 100%, but look at all the flak being spewed because the IRS looked closely at political organizations requesting 501(c)3 status, both Left AND Right.

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