Washington Babylon — December 7, 2009, 10:35 am

From “The More Things Change” File: Congressional junkets

From the New York Times:

Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican, toured a prince’s vineyard and castle in Liechtenstein and spent an afternoon at a ski resort in the Alps — all at the expense of a group of European companies.

Representative Danny K. Davis, an Illinois Democrat, got the dignitary treatment when a big donor flew him to Inner Mongolia to lobby for a new medical supplies factory in rural China. And Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, on another privately sponsored trip, stayed at the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem and attended a gala party near the Western Wall as part of a weeklong conference that lobbyists and executives paid as much as $18,500 to attend.

Despite changes intended to curb Congressional junkets, some lawmakers and even their families continue to take trips hosted by private groups and companies that revel in their access to Washington power brokers. An examination by The New York Times of 1,150 trips shows that some of them bent or broke rules adopted in 2007 to limit corporate influence in Washington. Others exploited glaring loopholes in the guidelines, enacted with much fanfare after scandals involving the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

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