At least these clowns kept their clothes on!
The trip was much like any of the hundreds hosted in recent years by a nonprofit offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful Washington lobby, and the purpose was much the same: to solidify the support of American lawmakers for Israel…
With hundreds of Washington lawmakers having gone to Israel courtesy of the program, the trips have a reputation as being the standard-bearer for foreign Congressional travel. “We call it the Jewish Disneyland trip,” said one pro-Israel advocate in Washington.
…The attention surrounding last summer’s trip — thanks to reports of a skinny-dipping Kansas lawmaker who was part of the delegation — has cast an unwanted spotlight once again on the practice of private groups paying for foreign travel, a source of frequent criticism in the past.
One of the most famous travel boondoggles — a golf trip to Scotland for members of Congress and staff members, hosted by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff — led Congress in 2007 to tighten restrictions on who could sponsor trips and for how long. But despite the new restrictions, the number of Congressional trips paid for by outside groups has actually increased since 2007, to more than 1,600 from about 1,300, according to Legistorm, a research group that tracks Congressional data. To comply with the new restrictions, many political and lobbying groups have turned to nonprofit groups they set up and finance to host the Congressional trips.
Since 2000, the American Israel Education Foundation has been more prolific than any other in sponsoring overseas trips for members of Congress and their staffs, organizing 733 trips for both Republicans and Democrats at a cost of more than $7 million. Last year, it spent $2 million to sponsor 146 trips…
Among the donors who have helped to finance the trips is Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is a strong Israel supporter and has pledged to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Obama. A charitable trust operated by Mr. Adelson and his wife gave $1.2 million in 2006 to the American Israel Education Foundation, records show.
“What this says is that these kinds of trips are still happening, because these groups want to influence those members of Congress, to make them sympathetic to the host’s interests,” said Bill Allison, editorial director for the Sunlight Foundation…
Eric Cantor of Virginia, as House majority leader, a dedicated supporter of Israel, has been on five trips since 2003. Trips costing $57,000. No doubt he would describe the trips, who paid for them and their purpose as educational and a wonderful aid to his performance as Congressman.
The same crap always used as rationales for Congressional junkets designed to curry favor, influence political hacks and guarantee policies that haven’t much to do with legislation appropriate to the needs of American voters.