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Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) Had Lobbyists pay for Trip
Mon May 02 2005 09:40:10 ET

The controversy over lobbyist-funded Congressional travel has brushed yet another Member. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) took a five-day jaunt to Miami in February. The original travel disclosure Dicks? office filed with the House Clerk listed the sponsor as the Spectrum Group, a defense lobbying firm in Alexandria, Va.

That would be a violation of House Rules, ROLL CALL reports on Monday.

And in recent days, Dicks? office has appended two ?corrections? to its initial filing.

The upshot is that Dicks, who sits on the House Appropriations subcommittee on Defense and the Homeland Security panel, has decided to pick up the tab.

That response is not satisfactory to one leading ethics watchdog.

?Reimbursing a lobbyist is not an acceptable option,? said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. ?It?s the concept that everybody does it ? but that isn?t an excuse.?

Lobbyists and lobbying firms are prohibited from funding Congressional travel for Members or staff, even if they later get reimbursed by an entity that is allowed to pay, such as lobbyists? clients, including corporations and trade associations.

On April 27, Dicks? press secretary, George Behan, said that Dicks had filed an amended travel report that changed the name of the trip?s sponsor from Spectrum to Raydon Corp., a Dayton Beach, Fla.-based client of Spectrum that makes military training simulators.

Gregory Sharp, president of the Spectrum Group, did not return multiple phone calls last week. A Raydon spokesman said he would look into the trip but did not follow up.

On April 27, Behan also said that one of Dicks? staffers made the change ?when she saw the reimbursement come in from Raydon.?

But he later contradicted that.


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