Either way, the cat is now out of the Congressional bag and ten lawmakers have some serious explaining to do.
An ethics investigation is underway into a 2013 luxury junket in which ten members of Congress were treated to a lavish vacation and gifts by SOCAR, an Azerbaijan state-run oil company. The money, roughly $750,000 was run through non-profits in the United States, allegedly to avoid detection, as reported by the Washington Post.
Allegations include the filing of false statements with Congress by the non-profits, in which they stated that they were the sponsors of the “conference.” Federal law as well as congressional rules prohibit foreign governments from purchasing favorable treatment from American lawmakers.
|The famous inept Shiela Jackson Lee|
It just so happens that SOCAR was seeking an exemption from U.S. Iranian sanctions in order to build a $28 billion gas pipeline project in the Caspian Sea.
Those under investigation and the amounts of airfare received in addition to other gifts are:
- Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) Member of Financial Services Committee – $19,961.80
- Danny K. Davis (D-IL) Member of Ways and Means Committee – $16,972.00
- Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) Member of Armed Services Committee – $13,997.70
- Former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) Member of Foreign Affairs Committee – $13,430.60
- Ted Poe (R-TX) Member of Foreign Affairs Committee, chairman, subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade – $13,376.60
- Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Member of Homeland Security Committee – $13,222.90
- Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) Member of Ethics Committee – $7,260.60
- Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) Member of Budget Committee – $7,050.90
- Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) Member of Foreign Affairs Committee – $5,741.60
- Leonard Lance (R-NJ) Member of Energy and Commerce Committee – $1,884.70
- Mike Turner (R-OH) Member of Armed Services Committee – Turner attended while under a separate delegation
It is interesting to note that one Democrat, Rep Yvette Clarke of NY, is herself a member of the House Ethics Committee. Perhaps a reassignment to another committee would place her somewhere where the mission better matches her character.
Ted Poe, as a former chief felony prosecutor in Harris County should have and likely did know better. Perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation and the offenses aren’t as bad as they appear but nobody is going to spend that kind of money and expect nothing in return. If Poe didn’t recognize the problem, perhaps that is because it is just one instance of many, of the nature of purchasing influence in Washington DC.
How was he or anyone to know that this would be the one of many that would happen to gain the public’s eye? The total of $750,000 is much more than the indicated amounts of airfare and trinkets. There must be more accounting to be done and with it, will come more accountability