lawmaker ‘forgets’ to disclose free trip to Israel
How do you 'forget' a seven-day, $4000, paid trip to Israel?
Simple. You don't.
You just say you did - if you're likely to get caught.
Oregon Speaker Karen Minnis said Tuesday she did not report that a private group paid $4,000 to send her to Israel last year, making her the latest lawmaker to get caught up in a controversy over legislative junkets.She's 'embarrassed' that she got caught trying to hide it.
The Wood Village Republican, who’s in the midst of a heated re-election battle, said the omission was unintentional.
Minnis said she went back and looked at her travel records because of recent disclosures that six legislators and one former lawmaker failed to report that beer and wine distributors had paid more than $2,000 for each of them to attend conferences in Hawaii in 2002 and 2004.
State law permits lobbyists to wine and dine legislators, but lawmakers are required to report such spending, over a certain amount, to the state ethics commission.
“I am embarrassed because it was not on my report,” Minnis said in an interview. “We are reporting it today, so it will be part of the record.”
Minnis said the seven-day trip in November 2005 was sponsored by the Portland Jewish Federation, and that State Treasurer Randall Edwards went on the trip as well.I have a novel idea. How about investing state funds in your own state, for a change?
Edwards, a Democrat, said Tuesday that beer-and-wine lobbyist Paul Romain helped arrange the trip on behalf of the Jewish Federation, although Romain doesn’t lobby for the group. Romain has been at the center of the related flap over lawmakers failing to report their trips to Hawaii.
The state treasurer said he had reported the $4,000 that came from private citizens, who are associated with the Jewish Federation, to pay for his trip to Israel. He said the trip was valuable because it allowed him to visit personally with managers of a Tel Aviv-based buyout company with whom the state has invested $50 million.
We had just put money into that firm. It was a perfect opportunity to learn about our investment in Israel,” Edwards said.
Charles Schiffman, executive vice president of the Portland Jewish Foundation, also said there’s good reason to have officials such as Minnis and Edwards visit Israel.So, you gotta start pulling their strings early in the game.
“Israel is one of the most dynamic parts of the world, and having the leadership of our communities be there is certainly important,” Schiffman said. “And, a lot of national leaders come out of state government.”
“We weren’t sneaking around [HONEST!] it just didn’t get on there,” Minnis said. “I have tried to be extremely careful [about not getting caught]."Is there ANY lawmaker that hasn't gone on a paid trip to Israel???
She also said her husband John, a former state legislator who’s now a state administrator, also went on the trip to Israel but paid his own expenses.