OCCRP: US/Azerbaijan: Lobbyists Continue to Flout Travel Rules
Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, said of the Congressional loophole, “You’re just asking for trouble, kind of drawing a road-map for how to evade.” And as for the 2013 trip, “this wasn’t a case where someone just said, ‘Oops’—this was a lot of effort to make this happen.”
“One of the really tough questions for [Speaker Paul Ryan] as well as the Democratic leader is, are they going to make clear to membership that they’re expected to cooperate with OCE?” McGehee says. A recent joint letter called for Ryan to “impose a moratorium on all privately-financed, foreign Congressional travel,” and set up a bipartisan task force to “recommend new rules and guidelines” that can prevent a similar violation in the future.
But the impetus for reform slips by the day. “Based on the OCE report, it certainly meets the ‘willful and knowing’ standard,” McGehee said. “The record is so clear, but I’m always …”—she sighs, slowly—“I don’t know; let down on these ethical issues.”