Pennsylvania Lawmakers Take More Free, Legal Trips
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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. House members from Pennsylvania and their staff accepted 41 privately paid trips so far 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 the staff of other lawmakers at a luxurious Las Vegas casino resort.
The Associated Press reviewed gift and travel records on the House clerk’s website in the wake of a controversy about how those trips would be disclosed.
The House Ethics Committee was criticized this month for quietly eliminating a Watergate-era requirement that lawmakers reveal trips on personal financial forms, reasoning that fuller data are already kept on file with the House clerk. After watchdog groups complained, that ethics requirement was reinstated.
Privately funded travel is not prohibited. But House members must get ethics committee approval before the trip and file detailed information — including costs — 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 U.S. House as a whole, from 1,012 in 2008 to 1,685 last year.
Among other members of the delegation, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., took four trips valued at $16,123, including a visit last month with his wife to Poland costing $12,506.
Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., sent staff members to the Consumer Electronics Association trade show in Las Vegas this past January. They stayed near the trade show at the Wynn casino resort, where a room cost more than $300 per night.
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