Pennsylvania lawmakers take more free, legal trips
U.S. House members from Pennsylvania and their staffs accepted 41 privately paid trips this year, ranging from $20,000 in business-class airline tickets to Japan for Rep. Charlie Dent and his wife to $300-a-night hotel rooms for congressional staff at a Las Vegas casino resort.
The Associated Press reviewed gift and travel records on the House clerk's website. The House Ethics Committee this month quietly eliminated a Watergate-era requirement that lawmakers reveal trips on personal financial forms, reasoning that fuller data are kept on file with the clerk. The requirement was reinstated because watchdog groups complained.
House members must get committee approval before the trip and file detailed information within 15 days of returning.
The increase in privately funded travel by members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, from 17 in 2008 to 47 in 2013, tracks a steady increase in the House as a whole, from 1,012 in 2008 to 1,685 last year.
The current travel rules were put in place in 2007 upon the conviction of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who showered lawmakers and their staffs with favors.
“The era of potential big-money influence is back,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, who advises Congress and states on campaign finance laws.
Among other members of the delegation, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, took four trips valued at $16,123, including a visit last month with his wife to Poland costing $12,506.
Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming, and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, sent staff members to the Consumer Electronics Association trade show in Las Vegas in January. They stayed near the trade show at the Wynn casino resort, where a room cost more than $300 per night.
In 2013, Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, accepted a trip to the Club for Growth's winter conference on fiscal conservatism, which included $450-per-night rooms at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
A spokesman for Rothfus, Edward Yap, said the congressman's trips were approved by the ethics committee.
In the Senate, where ethics rules are generally the same, Sen. Pat Toomey's office took 14 trips in 2013 and 2014 worth about $12,000 while Bob Casey's office took two. Two of the trips were taken by Toomey himself — one to the Club for Growth conference in Palm Beach in 2013 at a cost of $1,819, and the other a trip that he and wife took to Sea Island, Ga., this year paid for by the American Enterprise Institute, valued at $1,327. Both of Casey's trips were taken by his staff to Philadelphia and Warrenton, Va., at a cost of $1,100.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pennsylvania welfare employees targeted in crackdown
- Philly-area school district says it can’t make payroll amid budget stalemate
- Wall drawings of turn-of-the-century prizefighter found in Lancaster home
- Grieving pet owners find loving support in Pennsylvania group
- Pa. Gov. Wolf: Big changes needed in troubled school district
- Judge holds Pa. AG Kane for trial on 1 felony, 7 misdemeanors
- Pa. to kick off online registration
- Kane received sensitive emails on personal account
- Democrats stand firm, deny GOP the margin needed in Pa. budget battle
- Pennsylvania’s new online voter registration site goes live
- Lawyers tour Penn State fraternity house for evidence