Democrats ran on the Culture of Corruption charge in 2006 and gained control of both chambers of Congress on the promise to clean up Capitol Hill. The Wall Street Journal finds instead that Democrats have used their power to spend taxpayer dollars on high-priced global travel. Taxpayer-funded Congressional delegation travel has increased by 50% since the Democrats took charge:
Spending by lawmakers on taxpayer-financed trips abroad has risen sharply in recent years, a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records shows, involving everything from war-zone visits to trips to exotic spots such as the Galápagos Islands.
The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That’s a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.
The cost of so-called congressional delegations, known among lawmakers as “codels,” has risen nearly 70% since 2005, when an influence-peddling scandal led to a ban on travel funded by lobbyists, according to the data.
Lawmakers defend codels as necessary research for voting on complicated legislation. Prior to 2006, lobbyists picked up the tab for many of these flights, but the Jack Abramoff scandal put that practice in extreme disfavor. Instead of limiting themselves to the truly necessary travel, though, lawmakers have actually traveled more — and we’re paying for it.
Where do they go? Afghanistan? Iraq? Honduras? Not quite:
Although complete travel records aren’t yet available for 2009, it appears that such costs continue to rise. The Journal analysis shows that the government has picked up the tab for travel to destinations such as Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Lawmakers frequently bring along spouses on congressional trips. If they take commercial flights, they have to buy tickets for spouses. If they fly on government planes — as they usually do — their spouses can fly free.
Can you afford a European Grand Tour? Probably not, but the families of your elected Representatives can … with your money:
In mid-June, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii) led a group of a half-dozen senators and their spouses on a four-day trip to France for the biennial Paris Air Show. An itinerary for the event shows that lawmakers flew on the Air Force’s version of the Boeing 737, which costs $5,700 an hour to operate. They stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel, which advertises rooms from $460 a night.
The lawmakers were invited to a dinner party at the U.S. Embassy and had cocktails at a private party at the Eiffel Tower. Mr. Inouye attended a dinner sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, a U.S. trade group. Another senator on the trip, Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, took a cruise on the River Seine with defense-industry executives and elected officials from Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
Why not write them and ask if they can send you pictures? After all, you paid for them.