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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Travel Loophole!

In the September 12, 2011, issue of Roll Call Washington, they exposed a loophole in travel for House members to take long trips.  This past summer, dozens of lawmakers travelled to Israel this summer with staffers and family members for a seven-day tours paid for the non-profit arm of a pro-Israel lobbying group.
The August trips cost about $10,000 per person.  The non-profit organization is closely affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the groups are almost indistinguishable.  The American Israel Education Foundation, a charity arm of AIPAC.  The two groups share leaders, employees and money.
The Watchdog  group Public Citizen call it the AIPAC loophole.
     "Most of these trips tend to be nothing but an extension of lobbying."
They spend about $1.2 million sending lawmakers.  A non-profit think tank called the ASpen Institute is also a top sponsor of Congressional travel, spending more than $600,000 the past few years, but their group doesn't lobby.  Other top spenders include: the Turkish Coalition of America, Fu Jen Catholic University, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Center for American Progress.
There is much more to the article, visit Common Dreams, September 12, 2011, "US House Members Flock to Israel with travel loopholes.
Congress has made a valid attempt to stop or at least slowdown lobbying, however, the lobbyists make what was a fine law into an Empty Exercise.

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