Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack is among those calling for members of congress to continue disclosing any privately-funded trips they may take in an annual financial report that’s available for public scrutiny.
“The Ethics Committee decided unilaterally, without any public input, without talking to members as far as I can tell — decided to change the rules,” Loebsack says.
The committee decided trips members of congress take that are paid for by lobbyists and special interest groups will not be disclosed on one of the most high-profile disclosure reports members file annually. Loebsack, who is a Democrat from Iowa City, says he and rest of congress found out about the change after a media report on Tuesday.
“I’m very upset that this decision was made without consulting members and certainly without consulting the public,” Loebsack says. “I think it was the wrong decision to make.”
Millions of dollars is spent each year on trips for members of congress. In the House, privately financed trips must be approved in advance by the House Ethics Committee. After the trip, members must submit detailed reports and that data is posted online for the public to review. The House Ethics Committee voted in a private meeting to eliminate duplicate disclosure of such trips in the Financial Disclosure Report that members of congress must file each year.
Loebsack says while the trips can be educational, it’s not a good use of time and he refuses all invitations for paid travel.