The Center for Public Integrity did a study of private travel taken by members and staff since 2000 and found that outisde organizations — often non-profits set up by lobbyists or headed by lobbyists — paid $50 million to ferry lawmakers and their staffs around the world. Medill News Service provides the story:
Outside groups representing interests as diverse as nuclear energy and telecommunications have paid nearly $50 million since 2000 to shuttle members of Congress and their staffs around the world, from Kazakhstan to Kansas City, Paris to Palm Springs.
In fact, staffers often outpace their bosses in the number and the costs of trips that they took to far-flung edges of the world.
Overall, members of Congress went on globe-trotting excursions costing $18.9 million. But private interests paid much more — $30 million — to finance the trips of congressional staff members, who often are instrumental in shaping policy. … Republican congressional offices traveled more than Democrats, accounting for 56% of the dollars spent. With Republicans controlling Congress, the GOP has all the committee chairmanships, and consequently more staffers.
Republican leadership offices had the most-traveled staffers. Hastert’s staff took the most trips and had the highest tab of any congressional office. Other Republican leadership staffs, including those of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young, R-Alaska, were among the offices with the most travel.
But Democratic members of Congress were on the road more than Republicans, with more than $10 million worth of trips. Republican members’ trips totaled about $8.5 million.
You can watch the announcement of the study at the Center’s website www.publicintegrity.org.