Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

Weekend Trip to Paris for Members of Congress

A June Sunday in Paris can be lovely, especially if it’s on a free trip for members of Congress. But this trip was a little short on comfort and involved providing a congressional presence at an international meeting.

Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Ted Poe, R-Texas, and  William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., were given a free trip to Villepinte, France, on June 21-23. Villepinte is a northeastern suburb of Paris. The trip was sponsored by the Organization of Iranian American Communities and 17 other groups. Clay’s travel report lists the other sponsors. The stated purpose was to meet with opposition figures, domestic and international leaders seeking democratic change in Iran. Poe is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is chairman of its Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

The event was also the 10th Annual Conference for Democratic Change in Iran, coordinated by the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The NCRI, which includes groups such as the People’s Mujahideen of Iran, appeared on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations until last year. Speakers at the meeting included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., among others. A report on the meeting appears on the website of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of NCRI. It provides a long list of former U.S. officials and military leaders attending.

The working session was scheduled for four hours on Saturday. That left Sunday free before a 4:30 p.m. flight back from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Jackson Lee’s trip cost the organization $15,255. Clay reported the group paid $12,446 for his trip. He extended his trip one day at personal expense. Poe’s trip cost $10,999.

Thirty-six members of Congress were invited, but only these three have indicated they went and filed travel reports due 15 days after their return.

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