Lame ducks cannot travel on the taxpayer dime after the election, but there are no rules about taking advantage of the perk if an independent group pays.
So days after the Republicans triumphed in the midterms, two leaving GOP congressmen took advantage of final junkets, one to Rome and another to Tanzania.
The Ripon Society, a centrist Republican organization, and Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange (once described by the New York Times as an organization that “seems to exist largely to sponsor Congressional travel”) treated a bipartisan group of lawmakers and their spouses to a six-day trip to Italy that left two days after the election, according to filings published on Legistorm. The 16-member delegation included Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who is not returning to the job next year.
The International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) invited three lawmakers to Africa, including Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who lost his primary election for the Senate.
In Rome, the group stayed at the luxurious St. Regis Hotel (for $277 a night) and dined their last night at the Palazzo Brancaccio, an ornate 19th century palace, according to the itinerary. The lawmakers were brought together in the Eternal City to discuss trade issues mostly, and Camp, outgoing chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, does have an expertise in that area. They also toured the Vatican, because when in Rome …
Camp moderated several panel discussions, including one on the GOP’s agenda for the next Congress and the impact of the midterms. The panel included Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the NRCC chairman; former House Democratic Caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.); and GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
The private organizations paid for the travel and lodgings, though Camp’s disclosure notes that he paid for his and his wife’s airfare.
The day after the election, the ICCF invited three Republicans to Tanzania and the Serengeti National Park. (The group’s all-expenses-paid Africa jaunts were criticized in a 2013 Mother Jones story that questioned its intentions.)
On his disclosure, Kingston wrote that he had been involved with “international conservation, particularly African wildlife, throughout his career.” So we suppose it’s important for him to travel there now as he heads out the door.
Also on the trip with Kingston was Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), a known outdoorsman, who probably wanted to see Serengeti National Park, having hiked the Appalachian trail and all.
(Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Rep. John Larson as Larsen.)