Monday, February 27, 2006

Abramoff, Linder and Puerto Rico

The article I mentioned in my last post is up at Raw Story: Georgia congressman failed to declare Abramoff client trip, then supported client's efforts.

In 1998, Congressman John Linder and his wife went to Puerto Rico on an all expenses paid trip paid for by a client of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Future of Puerto Rico Inc., though you won't find that information in his campaign filings (just the financial disclosure statement with his personal income tax filing).

Why did Linder go to Puerto Rico?

Good question.

While he was an opponent of the group's key lobbying issue in 1998 - support for H.R. 856 which would provide a process leading to full self-government for Puerto Rico - Linder did vote yea on future bills that the group was paying Abramoff's team to lobby.

According to House Ethic Rules:

The Ethics Reform Act further permits ``the acceptance of travel expenses for the spouse or other family member in connection with any substantial participation event or fact-finding activity.'' (FOOTNOTE 52) The clear intent of this provision is to allow the traveling Member, officer, or employee to bring one relative (as defined in House Rule 43) at the sponsor's expense on a fact-finding or substantial participation trip.

Since Linder didn't list the trip separately with his campaign filings it's unknown how much the trip cost or why he went.

Only Linder knows what "fact-finding" he engaged in in August of 1998.


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