Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

Members of Congress Got $1.7 Million in Free Trips in August

As congressional inaction brings the government closer to a shutdown, new gift reports show members of Congress were adept at taking advantage of last month’s summer recess and receiving almost $1.7 million in free trips during the month of August.

During a paid monthlong summer recess, members of Congress reported receiving $1,668,928 in gifts of free travel, the largest monthly total since August 2011. The gifts covered the expenses of 130 trips by members during August. For the year, members of Congress have received $3,346,611 in free travel paid by outside organizations.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., reported receiving a $22,230 free trip to Dublin, Ireland, in August. His spouse went along and they stayed additional days at personal expense. Ten other members and some spouses went along. The trips were paid by the Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange and the Ripon Society, who sponsored a conference on TransAtlantic Capital to Capital Exchange.

Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., reported he and his spouse received a $20,021 free trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, in August. Sixty-two other Members and some spouses also received trips to Israel in August. The trips were paid for by the American Israel Foundation, who sponsored an education seminar.

Also traveling to Israel were Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., ($14,741); Dave Reichert, R-Wash., ($6,683); and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ($8,846), whose trips were sponsored by other organizations.

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., reported he and his spouse received a $17,478 free trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August. Twenty-two other members and some spouses went on the trip. The trips were paid for by Aspen Institute who sponsored a conference on Africa’s Emergence: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, received a free $7,266 trip to Beijing, China, sponsored by the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., received a free $10,029 trip to Amman, Jordan, for a CARE-sponsored visit to refugee camps.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., received a free $5,675 trip to Istanbul, Turkey, sponsored by the Pacifica Institute.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., received a free $2,958 trip to Bogata, Columbia, sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America.

Use Political MoneyLine’s Private Travel database for a full listing of August trips by members of Congress. View a month by month chart.

The figures above does not include free travel provided to congressional staff.

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

  • http://www.politicalmoneyline.com Kent Cooper

    sentenced has been changed. thanks.

  • Coloredman

    Please don’t attack the messenger. Stop defending the do nothing Rethugs.

    • Richard Williams

      I can assure you this is the first time I have been accused of defending Republicans; I am an ardent Democrat and supporter of the President. The article clearly states that both Democrats and Republicans have taken this money. My comment related to Cooper’s misuse of the English language. A “messenger” delivers a message he has not written and for which he is not responsible; a writer of an article is responsible for what he writes.

    • Jack Klompus

      What an inane comment.

  • submandave

    It’s a tough call. An organization may very well have a legitimate reason for inviting a Congress-critter to their event (e.g. seeking his or her expertise in an area, a desire to elevate awareness and visibility on an issue, etc.) and it is proper that the organization foot the bill when trying to accomplish their goals. There is, however, a legitimate question about when a reasonable request for the member’s presence and participation becomes a boondoggle and a naked attempt at improper influence peddling (e.g. paying for spouses and/or kids, lavish suite accommodations at four-star hotels, gourmet meals, etc.). That said, this is precisely the reason for these disclosure laws, so that the voters can make that decision.

    In any event, I damn sure prefer a private organization sponsoring a boondoggle thinly disguised as legitimate work than us, the U.S. taxpayers, being compelled through the threat of prosecution to support a boondoggle or, even worse, a campaign stop thinly disguised as legitimate work.

  • C7arol7ne

    These trips supply close-up ACCESS of officials and members of a foreign
    country to our elected representatives, and the question is—does all of this
    unearned largesse compromise in any way in any amount their supposed
    absolute allegiance to their home-town constituents?
    Eric Cantor hosted these trips every two years that I never learned about
    until several years ago. There is no public acknowledgment of them I am
    aware of. Mr. Cantor was my 7th district representative. I wonder if those
    trips may be one reason why he had such a stunning defeat in the recent primary!!

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