Members of Congress Fly Away Free to Emerald Isle on $450K-$750K Trip
Posted at 9:41 a.m. on Aug. 23, 2013
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.