Thursday, October 25, 2007
Democrats Flying High...Again (Still!)
But - but - but Dave, you ask, the Democrats told us prior to the November 2006 election that they were going to stop this kind of activity. They told us that it was the Republicans who were in the pockets of the lobbyists. Did the Dems lie to us?
Oh, little neophyte, do bears go poopy in the forest? Of course the Dems lied. You can always tell that a Dem is lying because their lips are moving. Now there were a few Republicans who took these trips, paid for by lobbyists too, but the trips were overwhelmingly taken by Democrats.
The Honolulu Advertiser reports the following story:
WASHINGTON — Despite new House travel restrictions, lawmakers accepted free trips worth nearly $1.9 million during the first eight months of this year — more than in all of 2006, records show.
The amount of travel lawmakers take at the expense of private groups typically declines in an election year, but last year it dramatically fell. Stung by scandals, lawmakers worried about re-election cut in half the amount of privately funded travel they took to $1.7 million, according to CQ MoneyLine, a nonpartisan group that tracks congressional travel.
The chill thawed this August, when lawmakers took 85 trips worth $828,808 — the highest since August 2003.
This year's trips cost more than twice as much, as trips fell from 588 in the first eight months of 2006 to 337 over that period this year. House members accounted for $1.8 million of the travel.
Congress took steps to eliminate luxury trips with lobbyists, restricting — not banning — travel paid by outside groups. The House enacted travel rules in March; similar restrictions are scheduled to take effect in the Senate next month.
Under new House rules, companies or groups with lobbyists can't provide more than a one-night stay for a lawmaker — or two nights for long-distance trips. Lawmakers took 30 trips under the exemption.
In all, 22 House Democrats and three Republicans accepted nearly $40,000 in travel under that exemption, according to reports filed with the House ethics committee.
The new rules require the House ethics committee to pre-approve the travel and make more details about the trips publicly available, said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Other trips under the one-day exemption included:
* Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick's [She's a DEM. - Drake] visit to address a leadership meeting at a Florida resort. Kilpatrick and an aide accepted $2,500 worth of travel, lodging and meals from DaVita Inc., the nation's largest chain of for-profit kidney dialysis centers. "My comments focused on addressing the disparities faced by African-Americans and other people of color as they relate to conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, which often lead to chronic kidney failure," Kilpatrick, a diabetic, said.
* A visit to the Silverado Resort in California's Napa Valley by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to attend a conference in August sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance, a trade group lobbying to preserve government price supports for homegrown sugar cane and beets. The cost: $3,924. Abercrombie spokesman Dave Helfert says the trip was to discuss an important crop for Hawai'i, not for a vacation. "He didn't choose the location," Helfert said. [Oh no, I'm sure the fact it was in Hawaii hardly played a factor for Dem Abercrombie. - Drake]
* A stay at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas for Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who chairs the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law. She spoke at a conference of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. Her chief of staff, Michael Torra, said Sanchez spoke about the controversial firings of federal prosecutors by the Bush administration.
This story reminds me of the Ozzy classic that deserves accolades:
1981's "Flyin' High Again", guitar by the late, great Randy Rhodes:
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