In a stunning reversal after three decades of public reporting, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives will no longer require members of Congress to disclose lavish foreign trips paid for by special interests.
For three decades, the House has publicly disclosed such travel. That rule has now changed under John Boehner, according to a report from National Journal.
This news comes as Congress reportedly took more free trips last year than it has since the Abramoff days, with 1,187 gift-trips at a cost of $6 million.
National Journal ads that while lobbyists have not been able to sponsor these trips since 2007, the groups who do sponsor them are “tied closely” to lobbyists.
Perhaps it’s time someone asked Aaron Schock who’s footing the bill for his seemingly endless jaunts around the country and world. And in fact, I just downloaded the last reports, before they got banned by Boehner, and Aaron Schock got a trip to India paid for by special interests last year, and trips to Cuba and Turkey paid for in 2012, Spain in 2011, Ethiopia in 2010, and Israel in 2009.
And Schock is a relatively junior member. Imagine what the big boys and girls get.
If you have some time to kill, head over to the US House Web site and check out who’s been getting free travel to where. When you look at the records, keep in mind that the first name is the person who traveled, and the second name is the office they’re with. So for members of Congress, you want both names to be their name.
Understandably, Melanie Sloan over at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was less than thrilled:
“Removing the travel disclosure requirement from the annual disclosure form is a blatant attempt to avoid accountability. The only Americans who would possibly be in favor of this change are members of Congress. It seems some lawmakers are eager to enjoy privately funded lavish trips without facing pesky questions from watchdog groups and constituents. The idea that this is a change for efficiency’s sake is ludicrous.”