'Fiscal conservative' Mike Ross UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, August 8, 2009

'Fiscal conservative' Mike Ross UPDATE

Posted By on Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 4:06 PM

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Wall Street Journal map

Get a new descriptive for the Blue Dogs, please. The reasons are ample.

But the latest is supremely rich. Get a load of a Wall Street Journal report on a climate-change fact-finding trip by Representative Ross, his wife and a few other members of Congress, aides and spouses. There was snorkeling on the Great Barrier reef. New Year's eve fireworks in New Zealand. An incredibly expensive side trip to Antarctica.  A cable car ride through the Australian rain forest. Travel by luxury Air Force jet. A little decompression after their hard fact-finding at the Royal Hawaiian hotel in Honolulu.

Tough work, but Mike Ross has to do it and you couldn't expect him to take on such unpleasant duty without his wife (who was charged for meals, not travel or lodging.)

Fiscal conservative my a**.

PS -- Ross still doesn't believe in climate change or that poison-spewing coal-burning power plants have a negative impact on civilization. Maybe a few more fat junkets might change his mind.

 UPDATE: Paul Barton reminds us of some previous high-falutin' Ross travel.

 

-         From Paul Barton

 

WASHINGTON – This weekend’s scoop from The Wall Street Journal that listed Mike Ross and his wife as among congressional couples on a controversial 2008 overseas trip that mixed stops at tourist spots with purported fact-gathering about global warming is not the first time Ross’s Southern Hemisphere tripping has garned attention.

   In late 2004, Ross and his wife Holly went on a $28,236 trip to Australia paid for by the Australian government and the American-Australian Association. It was by far the most the expensive overseas trip taken by any member of Arkansas delegation that year and one of the most expensive this decade. Records of the journey are available on the Web at http://www.legistorm.com/trip/1378.html.

   That trip, however, now pales in comparison to the New Year’s 2008 Southern Hemisphere expedition that The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. This latest trip, which had the avowed purpose of researching global warming at the South Pole, also included some touristy fun along the way and back, the newspaper said, including  “diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. They also rode a cable car through the Australian rain forest, visited a penguin rookery and flew to the South Pole.”

   The newspaper estimated the cost of the trip, including travel provided by the Defense Department, at well more than $600,000. Congressional spending on overseas travel has increased nearly 10-fold since the mid 1990s and is now at least $13 million a year.

   An attempt to reach Ross’s press secretary, Brad Howard, was unsuccessful early Sunday night.

   Other members of the trip, however, told the newspaper the trip was more valuable “than 100 hearings.”

   Ross is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which debated and passed climate-change legislation earlier this year.

   Arkansas members and their staffs have long had a talent for getting in public relations trouble with trips. In the mid-1980s, former Democratic Rep. Bill Alexander was the only passenger on a government plane that flew him on a journey to Central America. And during Sen. Blanche’s first term, her then chief of staff, Steve Patterson attended opening day of the 2002 baseball season at the Atlanta Braves’ new stadium, courtesy of media giant AOL Time Warner.  The purpose of the trip was listed on congressional forms as "attend [Atlanta] Braves game; meet Braves executives; tour CNN; meet with CNN executives; meet with Sports Illustrated editorial board."

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