Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Caribbean Travel - Other Media Outlets On the Case

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I wrote an investigative piece more than a month ago on annual trips to the Caribbean region by Congressional Democrats led by powerful Charles Rangel. In the article, I pointed out that Rangel did not file a required travel disclosure form for his 2005 trip. I also discussed the fact that the trip is sponsored by many big corporations, even though the Congress members who attended have not listed them on their disclosure forms.

Now other media outlets have also gotten on the case. USA Today published an article on Rangel along the lines discussed in my article, but discussing last year's trip. And House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct told at least one of the Congressional participants of the 2006 trip to list all of the corporate sponsors on the disclosure form. Here's a note from PoliticalMoneyLine.com:

Confusion Still Exists in November 2006 Travel Reports 12/19/2006

Rep. David Scott and spouse, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and her sister, Rep. Gregory Meeks and spouse, Rep. Sanford Bishop and spouse, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, and Rep. Donald Payne took a free trip to Panama City, Panama, compliments of the Carib News Foundation. Their reports were just filed and one included a letter from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct indicating that all the sponsors of the trip, not just the Carib News Foundation, should be listed on the Members travel forms. This would include Macy’s, Pfizer, AT&T, Citibank, IBM, American Airlines, Golden Krust Franchises, Jerk Qzine, Panama City, and the Republic of Panama. These were not included on the Members’ travel reports.

An October 6, 2006 working copy of the agenda lists AT&T /Macy’s sponsoring the sessions on “Unlocking New Regional Opportunities and Expanding Business Horizons.” AT&T was also listed for a session on “Technology – The Engine of Invention”. Pfizer was listed for sessions on “Health Care – a strong investment and growth center for the economy,” and “Health Care Regional Initiatives.” Citibank was listed for the session on “Regional Economic Collaboration,” and the session on Entrepreneurship – The Next Level.”

I filed my article before the 30-day filing window was over, so I had seen none of the disclosure forms nor the note from the committee.