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June 05, 2006
US Congressmen took $50 million in free trips & Why Health Insurance is So Poor in the USA
A new independent, non-partisan study today announced that US congressmen and their assistants have taken about $50 million of trips paid for by special interests (corporations & lobbyists) with many trips to popular vacation destinations such as Paris, Hawaii and Italy. Many people are viewing these "fact finding trips" as thinly disguised payments for special favors for corporations and other special interest groups - and provide examples such as the regulations that allow very limited mental health insurance coverage (or non-existent health insurance) which increases insurance companies profits at the expense of driving up costs for families that can least afford it, while at the same time making it impossible for many families to get the recommended early treatments for schizophrenia that make a recoveries more likely. Following is a quote from today's Reuters news coverage:
Members of the U.S. Congress and their aides took free trips worth nearly $50 million paid for by corporations, trade associations and other private groups between January 2000 and June 2005, according to a study released on Monday.
A new study of more than 25,000 public documents reveals that members of Congress are not alone in taking millions of dollars worth of privately funded trips. Lawmakers and their aides took nearly 23,000 privately sponsored trips to places from Kansas to Kazakhstan, at a cost of almost $50 million, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity, Northwestern University's Medill News Service, and American Public Media programs Marketplace and American RadioWorks.
"Power Trips: Congressional Staffers Share the Road" is the result of a year-long investigation by American Public Media reporters, Northwestern University Medill School graduate students and Center for Public Integrity staffers who analyzed 25,000 travel documents from January 2000 to June 2005, filed not only by Congress members but also by their staffs. The study is a follow-up to the widely cited "Power Trips: Congress Hits the Road," an investigation of privately sponsored travel by Congress members released two years ago by Northwestern University's Medill School and American Public Media.
In looking at travel by both members of Congress and their staffers, the new "Power Trips" study finds that the lion's share of the nearly $50 million spent on trips by private sponsors was enjoyed by congressional aides, the powerful Beltway gatekeepers to Congress members who special interests want to reach. Like their bosses, the study also found, staffers repeatedly ignored travel disclosure requirements and House and Senate rules.
-- Many privately funded trips taken by Congress were sponsored by corporations, trade associations and nonprofit groups with business interests on Capitol Hill.
-- Often, the travel amounted to pricey jaunts to some of the world's best-known vacation destinations. From January 2000 through June 2005, congressional travelers took at least 200 trips to Paris, 150 to Hawaii, and 140 to Italy.
-- Disclosure forms also show that at least 500 trips cost $10,000 or more, 16 cost $25,000 or more, and the cost of one exceeded $30,000. There were $500-a-night hotel rooms, $25,000 corporate jet rides and other extravagant perks.
Both Democrats and Republicans took advantage of privately funded travel. Of the two dozen congressional offices that accepted the most trips, 15 were occupied by Republicans. Of the 25 individual lawmakers who accepted more than $120,000 worth of travel during the study period, 17 were Democrats.
"Power Trips: Congressional Staffers Share the Road" includes a series of radio broadcasts and a website produced and distributed by American Public Media's Marketplace daily business and economics news program and its national documentary unit, American RadioWorks, that begin today on Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace; a series of more than 30 Medill News Service newspaper articles and website reports; and a package of investigative stories and interactive features at the Center for Public Integrity's website.
For more information, please visit the following URLs:
Lobbyists Provide Millions in Free Travel for Members of Congress - Public Citizen Report Shows How Lobbyists Use Non-Profits to Exploit Loopholes in Congressional Ethics Rules to Take Lawmakers on Lavish Trips
Posted by szadmin at June 5, 2006 12:17 PM
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