Following Frequent Fliers


Here’s more information on the Center for Public Integrity‘s upcoming report on congressional travel sponsored by third parties. The Center has put together a database and a package of stories and analysis looking at the sponsors and the travelers–both elected representatives and their staff. As I mentioned below, I suspect that we’ll find that Congress is flying as frequently on the dimes of special interests as it did in the past, although I’m curious to see whether the sponsors have changed all that much. When CPI looked at that same phenomenon for the 1998 book The Buying of the Congress by Charles Lewis, we analyzed a year and a half of travel disclosures–from 1996 and the first six months of 1997. Back then, we found, among the top 20 sponsors, the Aspen Institute, the Nuclear Energy Institute, AIPAC, the Securities Industry Association, the Florida Sugar Cane League, the Edison Electric Institute, the Tobacco Institute, and the National Cable Television Association, to name a few.

It’s interesting to reread the Center’s old findings —

In all, 443 members of Congress–eighty-seven Senators and 356 Representatives–and 2,020 congressional employees accpeted “free” trips worth a total of at least $8.6 million from various special interests, finding essential facts in such places as Athens, Greece; Auckland, New Zealand; Bordeaux, France; Katmandu, Nepal; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and St. Moritz, Switzerland, to name just a handful.

To find out the extent to which this past is prologue, go the Center’s Web site…

On Monday, June 5th, the Center will launch Power Trips, an extensive investigative report on privately sponsored travel by members of Congress and their aides. The findings, which reveal that members of Congress and their staff took thousands of trips worth millions of dollars to destinations around globe, are based on an analysis of more than 25,000 travel disclosure documents.

To mark the release of this major report the Center will hold a press conference together with project partners, the American Public Media programs Marketplace and AmericaRadioWorks and Northwestern University’s Medill News Service on Monday morning in Washington, D.C.

Watch the press conference on our web site on a live streaming video feed starting at 11 a.m. ET.

Participate in the press conference by submitting questions by email. When the 11 a.m. video feed starts, follow the link from our home page to the form where you can submit your question. We will be on site reading all the emails coming and may answer your questions on the air.

Guest speakers at the press conference will include: Wendell Rawls, Executive Director of the Center for Public Integrity; Ellen Shearer, the Assistant Dean at Northwestern University’s Medill School and the Co- Director of the Medill News Service; and Chris Farrell, Economics Editor for American Public Media’s Marketplace, Marketplace Money and American RadioWorks.