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View Full Version : Bipartisanship at last?



LWW
09-01-2010, 05:38 AM
This, in a nutshell, is why the TPM is so powerful.

Both parties have sufficient numbers of cads among them, and the idea that one side may be worse than the other pales in comparison to the idea that we have way too much corruption in congress.

Only the most partisan among us will attempt to demonize one side and excuse the other, yet it continues at the fringes of the political spectrum.

With the rise of the TPM we have an electorate which is more knowledgeable and involved than at any time in my life.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Congressional investigators are questioning a half-dozen lawmakers for possibly misspending government funds meant to pay for overseas travel, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation follows a Wall Street Journal article in March that said lawmakers had used daily cash stipends, meant to cover certain costs of official government travel overseas, to cover expenses that appeared to be unauthorized by House rules. An independent ethics board has referred the matter to the House ethics committee.

Investigators are said to have contacted lawmakers, below, included in a March 2 article on travel per diems.

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Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.)

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Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.)

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Rep. Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.)

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Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D., Texas)

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Rep. Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.)

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Former Rep. Mark Souder (R., Ind.)

Congressional rules say the daily travel funds, called a per diem, must be spent on meals, cabs and other travel expenses. But when lawmakers travel, many of their meals and expenses are picked up by other people, such as foreign governmentofficials or U.S. ambassadors.


That can leave lawmakers with leftover money. Lawmakers routinely keep the extra funds or spend it on gifts, shopping or to cover their spouses' travel expenses, according to dozens of current and former lawmakers.

The cash payments vary according to the cost of living and range from about $25 a day in Kabul to more than $250 a day in one part of Japan. Lawmakers also usually request and receive an additional $50 a day. Leftover funds can add up to more than $1,000 a trip for longer visits to expensive regions.

Previously in the Journal

There is no system for lawmakers to return excess travel funds when they return to the U.S. and investigators may conclude that House rules for the use of per diem are unclear. One lawmaker, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), said that he mails a personal check to the U.S. Treasury after each trip. Congress doesn't keep any record of the amount of per diem that is returned to the government.

The Journal article in March quoted several lawmakers saying they didn't return excess travel funds to the government. Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) said he once bought marble goblets in Kabul. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.) said he paid for drinks and gifts for people who traveled with him. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.), who is a member of the House ethics committee, said he sometimes keeps the extra money. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.) said he didn't know if he kept extra money because he doesn't keep receipts.

According to several lawmakers who have been contacted by ethics investigators, the probe is examining Messrs. Wilson, Hastings and Butterfield, as well as Rep. Aderholt and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D., Texas). Former Rep. Mark Souder (R., Ind.) was also contacted by investigators.

Pepper Pennington, a spokeswoman for Mr. Wilson, said the marble goblets he bought cost less than $2 each and were gifts for members of the military. "Focusing on personal purchases under $2 while over 14 million Americans are out of work does not reflect the priorities of the American people," she said.

Darrell Jordan, a spokesman for Mr. Aderholt, confirmed that his office was contacted by ethics investigators.

Mr. Souder said he had been contacted by ethics investigators after he was quoted in the Journal story saying he spent per diem funds on a $200 painting of a Turkish estuary for his office. "They asked for all kinds of records, and I said I don't have any, because you didn't have to keep them," Mr. Souder said. The inquiry into Mr. Souder's spending was dropped after he retired from Congress in May. The ethics committee has jurisdiction only over current members of Congress.

The other lawmakers didn't return calls seeking comment.

Investigators won't make the probe public until after the election due to a House rule that bars announcements of ethics investigations in the months before an election.

The investigation by the House's independent ethics board, the Office of Congressional Ethics, began several months ago. The office made a veiled reference to the matter in a quarterly report detailing its activities for April, May and June.

After sending inquiries to the lawmakers involved, the ethics office found enough evidence to refer the matter this summer to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, known as the ethics committee, according to lawmakers and lawyers involved. The ethics committee has the power, after an investigation, to issue sanctions. The status of the committee's own inquiry was unclear, and the panel is prohibited from discussing its investigations.

The travel inquiry is the latest in a string of ethics investigations in the House that could hurt Democrats at the polls in November by undermining the party's message that it has "drained the swamp" of ethics abuses in Washington.

The House ethics committee is also pursuing high-profile cases against Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California. Both lawmakers could face public proceedings in coming weeks that would be the congressional equivalent of a trial. Mr. Rangel has said he didn't break any rules. Ms. Waters has said she is innocent of wrongdoing.

It wasn't clear if the ethics inquiry into travel funds would reach that level. The lawmakers could settle the matter by reimbursing the government for the money they spent. Investigators could also decide the rules have been too murky.

Some lawmakers said it has been a longstanding custom of lawmakers in both parties to keep any extra money. If lawmakers weren't allowed to keep leftover travel funds, "you could never get many members traveling," said Mr. Ortiz, the Texas Democrat, in an interview earlier this year.

Mr. Souder said he didn't know for sure that lawmakers were required to return excess funds. "It was at least in dispute," he said in an interview. "I believe that there is probably a document that says that you are supposed to return the money. The question is: Was that the practice, and did anybody do it? I was told by many people: don't worry about getting a receipt, you don't get one, you keep the difference."

The per diem program receives little oversight, and no records are kept for how the money is spent or how much is returned to the government after trips.

Journal CommunityDISCUSS
“It's like every leaf that is lifted there is more of this nonsense. Keeping track of all the money floating around Washington is like grabbing a handful of sand and trying to control each grain. ”
—James Schaad
When lawmakers arrive in a foreign country, U.S. government officials give them an envelope with cash in the local currency. The money is meant to cover three meals and incidental expenses, which federal travel regulations say include transportation and tips for baggage handling and other services.

When lawmakers leave the country, U.S. government officials convert any leftover foreign currency into U.S. dollars.

In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implemented some changes to House travel rules, in part by making it explicit that lawmakers must return excess travel funds. She also said that if lawmakers requested the additional $50 for their per diem, they must retain receipts to justify the additional cost.

Rep. Tim Johnson (R., Ill.) has introduced legislation that would create a formal mechanism for lawmakers to return their excess travel funds. So far, Mr. Johnson's legislation has one co-sponsor.

"We are under no illusions that this will be a popular measure," said Bobby Frederick, a spokesman for Mr. Johnson. </div></div>

<span style='font-size: 26pt'>LONG LIVE THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC!

THROW ALL THE SCOUNDRELS OUT!

IT'S TIME FOR US TO RETURN TO A

GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY

THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE!

REJECT THE SPOON AMERICA!

GET INVOLVED!

LEARN!

VOTE!</span>

LWW

Sev
09-01-2010, 06:54 AM
Off with their heads!!!!!

LWW
09-01-2010, 04:46 PM
And, as we have come to know and love them, our resident leftists simply cannot denounce one of their own flock.

LWW

Qtec
09-02-2010, 02:57 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">With the rise of the TPM we have an electorate which is more knowledgeable and involved than at any time in my life. </div></div>

LMAO

Typical well informed TP gal. watch and be amazed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD5NvD56vRs&feature=player_embedded#!)

Q........ /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/crazy.gif

LWW
09-02-2010, 03:48 AM
The topic is crooked congressvolk ... and, no, nobody thought you could denounce a party member.

LWW

Qtec
09-02-2010, 04:54 AM
So you think Sara palin, Rick Scott, Sharon Angle are a step in the right direction?

Q

LWW
09-02-2010, 05:07 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Qtec</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> So you think Sara palin, Rick Scott, Sharon Angle are a step in the right direction?

Q </div></div>

Let me repeat myself for you:

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The topic is crooked congressvolk ... and, no, nobody thought you could denounce a party member.

LWW </div></div>

If you wish to start a thread on a different topic then please do so.

LWW

Qtec
09-02-2010, 05:10 AM
Who do you think you are? Palin? Angle? Only THEY have the right to ignore Qs.

Q...LOL

LWW
09-02-2010, 05:24 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Qtec</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> So you think Sara palin, Rick Scott, Sharon Angle are a step in the right direction?

Q </div></div>

Let me repeat myself for you:

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The topic is crooked congressvolk ... and, no, nobody thought you could denounce a party member.

LWW </div></div>

If you wish to start a thread on a different topic then please do so.

LWW </div></div>

I apologize, try as I might I cannot dumb down the concept to your level.

Perhaps if you start looking up you will finally notice a little of what is constantly flying over your head.

LWW