Monday, August 10, 2009

Congressmen Took Exotic 'Climate Change'Junket At Taxpayers Expense

"Diving and snorkeling at Australia's Great Barrier Reef, watching New Year's fireworks in New Zealand, and sleeping in a luxury Hawaiian hotel is the vacation of a lifetime — unless you're a member of Congress. Then it's a fact-finding mission to study climate change.

Ten lawmakers — six Democrats and four Republicans — spent 11 days on an international junket in some of the most breathtaking spots on Earth. Then they stuck taxpayers with the $500,000-plus bill.

According to the Wall Street Journal, six spouses also made the journey at the end of 2007, and their expenses for lodging and travel also came out of taxpayers' pockets.

"The trip we made was more valuable than 100 hearings," Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., told the Journal. "Are there members of Congress who take trips somewhat recreationally? Perhaps. Is this what this trip was about? Absolutely not."

Baird, the lead congressman on the exotic junket, was chairman of the House Science Committee's subcommittee on research and science education at the time. The trip ostensibly was to gather information on global warming and how federal funds are used for scientific projects.

Joining Baird were Reps. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; Mike Ross, D-Ark.; Russ Carnahan, D-Mo.; Charlie Melancon, D-La.; John Tanner, D-Tenn.; Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas; Bob Inglis, R-S.C.; Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif.; and Adrian Smith, R-Neb. Spouses accompanied Ross, Carnahan, Melancon, Tanner, Neugebauer, and Lucas.

During their adventure, the 10 lucky lawmakers visited the Great Barrier Reef, Australia's rain forest, a research station at the South Pole, a penguin colony, and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach.

The final tab? The lawmakers reported the total cost at merely $103,000, according to the Journal. But that figure doesn't include flight costs because commercial airlines were not used. Instead, Air Force jets ferried the participants to their far-flung destinations. The Journal used Pentagon figures to estimate that the flight expenses brought the overall cost of the junket to more than $500,000."

Get the full story below.

By Chris Wessling
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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