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Religious Groups, Nonprofits Fight Travel Ban:

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A number of religious groups and nonprofits are fighting a proposed ban on members of Congress accepting privately financed travel, arguing that their “activities are far different from the golfing and exotic foreign junkets that have been the centerpiece of recent lobbying scandals.” According to The Hill newspaper, the groups leading the fight are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has raised the possibility of modifying the Democratic proposals after “discussions on things like the Faith and Politics trip to Selma and Montgomery or the Aspen Institute or other like institutions.”

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Pombo Used Taxpayer Money for Family Vacation:

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In 2003 Richard Pombo (R-CA) rented an RV and, with his family, went on a tour of tour of national parks that cost taxpayers $4,935, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Pombo claims that the trip was an official business trip because, as House Resources Chairman, he oversees all national parks. Pombo insists that there was no additional charge for him taking his family with him. House rules prohibit using government funds for personal travel, but allow family members to accompany congressmen on official trips. Undermining his defense, Pombo wrote about the trip on his committee’s website: “This August, my family and I rented an RV and set out to explore the West. We spent two weeks on vacation, stopping along the way to enjoy the splendor of many of our national parks.”

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DeLay Defense Fund in the Red:

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The Houston Chronicle reports that former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-TX) defense fund is in the red, owing more money to lawyers than it took in last year. The defense fund reeled in $590,520 in 2005 but he ran up over $1 million in legal fees for the year. Support for DeLay may be dwindling on Capitol Hill considering that only 31 lawmakers contributed to his defense fund, down from 44 contributors in 2004.

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