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AP describes 6 years of luxurious special-interest living by Tom DeLay

SHOWCASE | December 21, 2005

Wire service writers do some old fashioned reporting – going over public records – to find 100 flights on corporate jets, stays at world-class hotels, and other examples of high life paid for by donors and PACs

By Barry Sussman

In rich detail, an Associated Press story says that while “Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too.” The story, dated Dec. 20, 2005, says that “over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.”

Written by AP reporters Larry Margasak and Sharon Theimer, the 1530-word article cites public documents that show “at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways” during that period; “100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.”

“Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress,” the article states.

It goes on to say that “AP's review found DeLay's various organizations spent at least $1 million over the last six years on top hotels, restaurants, golf resorts and corporate jet flights for their boss and his associates.”

The article doesn’t question the legality of the trips or spending, noting that “while it's illegal for a lawmaker to tap political donations for a family vacation, it is perfectly legal to spend it in luxury if the stated purpose is raising more money or talking politics.”

“Special interests routinely make donations and attend fundraisers to gain access to government decisionmakers, the AP article noted. But, it said, that “while other congressional leaders accepted trips and used political money to cover travel, none compares with DeLay.”

The one who comes closest, according to the AP report, is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Click here for the full AP story.

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