Ethics reform bills may restrict or ban travel gifts

Lobbying opportunities during travel at issue
When Representative Walter Jones (R., N.C.) made a one-day trip to speak to a Columbus, Ohio, congregation in 2005, he and aide William Moore didn’t have to spend time in airports waiting for connecting flights.

Instead, the two boarded a private plane leased and operated by a church. They reported the total cost of their travel as $7,240—the equivalent of two first-class tickets, the formula allowed under House travel rules. The trip was paid for by the Center for Moral Clarity, an offshoot of the 12,000-member World Harvest Church, which is based in Columbus and headed by charismatic pastor Rod Parsley.

Paying for travel is a legal way for groups—including nonprofit religious organizations—to get the attention of lawmakers and possibly gain support for their causes. Trips may also give politicians a platform to promote legislation.

 

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