End to reports for privately paid Congressional travel questioned

By From page A3 | July 03, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Privately sponsored travel by congressional representatives no longer has to be included on yearly financial disclosures – a change that Rep. John Garamendi says he opposes and that state Assemblyman Dan Louge, challenging Garamendi for the 3rd Congressional District seat, calls “outrageous.”

“This is a time for transparency,” said Logue. “This is the wrong thing at the wrong time.”

Logue, R-Loma Rica, said the timing for the end to the requirement is suspicious with Garamendi, who led congressional representatives with about $70,000 in paid trips last year, seeking re-election Nov. 4.

“My opponent seems to be the king of the junkets,” the state assemblyman said.

Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said in opposing the decision by a congressional subcommittee to end reporting requirements that, “I believe transparency and disclosure are healthy in our government and in our elections.”

“The public has the right to know who is contributing to congressional travel and who is contributing to campaigns,” Garamendi said.

The congressman said the public also has the right to know who is contributing to political action committees.

“Secret money has no place in our democracy,” Garamendi added.

The National Journal  reported Monday that the House of Representatives quietly ended the reporting requirement, a move the Washington, D.C. publication said was made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee that undertook the action.

Ending the requirement reverses more than three decades of practice, the publication added. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on yearly financial forms since the late 1970s after the Watergate scandal, the National Journal said.

Garamendi in 2013 went with his wife Patricia to Sudan in February, Turkey in April and Ethiopia in August.

His office said in a statement earlier this year that, “These visits did not cost the U.S. taxpayer a single dime, but they did provide Congressman Garamendi with valuable opportunities to advance America’s foreign policy and national security.”

“Congress needs leaders who are willing to learn and to share America’s story with the rest of the world,” the statement added.

Logue, running against Garamendi in the Nov. 4 election to represent the 3rd Congressional District that includes Fairfield, Vacaville and Suisun City, said Wednesday that the trips are junkets reflecting a good-ol’-boy network that takes care of one another.

“He’s an insider,” Logue said of Garamendi. “He’s been in office for 40 years. It’s a way of life.”

The state assemblyman said government faces a crisis of trust unprecedented in a half-century.

“This just feeds it,” Logue said of the end to the paid-travel reporting requirement.

Garamendi in the June primary election won 54,672 votes to Logue’s 47,560.

Contact Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


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