USA TODAY: House Ethics Committee let members slide on disclosure rules


The existence of a six-month grace period was news to ethics watchdogs, said Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, who has helped draft previous congressional travel rules. "They just kind of made an executive decision that they weren't going to enforce the rule."

As long as Congress lets private organizations pay for congressional travel, taxpayers "are supposed to take it on faith" that the committee has determined the trips are being paid for by legitimate groups for legitimate purposes, McGehee said. "The paperwork certainly doesn't provide confidence that's happening."

The committee's failure to detect the real source of money for the Azerbaijan trip "did a tremendous disservice to these members of Congress," who went on the trip, she said. "They allowed the members to be embarrassed because the Ethics Committee did not do its due diligence," McGehee said.

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