|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Over 5 1/2 years, Republican and Democratic lawmakers accepted nearly $50 million in trips, often to resorts and exclusive locales, from corporations and groups seeking legislative favors, according to the most comprehensive study to date on the subject of congressional travel.
From January 2000 through June 2005, House and Senate members and their aides were away from Washington for more than 81,000 days -- a combined 222 years -- on at least 23,000 trips, according to the report, issued yesterday by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. About 2,300 of the trips cost $5,000 or more, at least 500 cost $10,000 or more, and 16 cost $25,000 or more.
"While some of these trips might qualify as legitimate fact-finding missions," the study said, "the purpose of others is less clear." In addition, the lawmakers' financial reports that disclose the details of the trips are routinely riddled with mistakes and omissions.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) proposed banning such travel [too his credit] soon after Abramoff's plea. But lawmakers of both parties and in both chambers of Congress quickly resisted imposing significant new restrictions on the trips, which are a much-prized perk of office. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) won election to the post of House majority leader this year by running on a platform that included opposing the travel ban.