by Max Brantley
The Center for Public Integrity has been busily combing public data to compile abusers of fancy travel provided members of Congress by special interest groups. Ain't nobody worse than Tom DeLay. Republicans generally, though not exclusively, lead the lists. Surprise
Arkansas breaks into the big leagues with a No. 5 spot on what CPI has figured are the most expensive single lobby trips of the last five years A shout-out to U.S. Rep. Mike Ross (he of the high-dollar auto leases). It's said to have cost more than $28,000 for the Australian government and its lobby to send him on a junket to the land Down Under.
It's clear. These guys can't be trusted any more than the average Ark. legislator, whose vote is often rentable for the price of a thick steak and a pop or two. Freebies must be outlawed.
If these trips are worthwhile, let the public pay for them and let the legislators submit the expenses and justify them to any constituents who ask. We bet the rooms won't be so nice, the jets so exclusive, the meals so rich or the golf courses so luxurioiusly, if these were truly strictly "fact-finding" missions.