CT’s members of Congress report free trips here and abroad

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Matt Weibo

Onboard B747-400 Combi Wrold Business Class - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Since 2015, special interests, nonprofits, and think tanks have paid almost $40,000 for Connecticut lawmakers, their spouses and their staffers to travel to places as close as Philadelphia and as far as Berlin, Germany.

Corporate clients and lobbyists have been forbidden from paying for congressional trips since 2007. But foreign governments or nonprofit organizations that advocate for causes can still pay for trips.

When they accept the free travel, members of Congress, officers, and staff must file reports that detail travel-related expenses reimbursed by non-government sources.

U.S. Reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro filed no reports during the 2015-16 period, nor did U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

However, here are a few highlights from the documents submitted by other members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation:

U.S. Rep. James Himes, D-4th District, has sent multiple members of his staff to a conference in Middleburg, Va., and he accompanied them once in 2015. He took a chartered bus. Overall cost for himself and two other employees over two years cost less than $3,000.

Himes’ Deputy Chief of Staff went on a trip to Brussels, Belgium, and London, England, sponsored by the Progressive Policy Institute for travel valued at $2,775.

U.S.. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, went on one trip since 2015. He visited Belfast and Birmingham in the United Kingdom in February for the Connecticut District Export Council— his fifth such trip, according to documents. Transportation, lodging and meals were valued at $2,800.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, took two free international trips in 2015. She first visited Berlin, Germany, for two weeks at the expense of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, a bipartisan educational program for members of Congress, at a cost of more than $10,000.

“With a significant Ukranian population in CT, Rep. Esty will engage in critical activities to better understand the United States’ response to Russia’s assertiveness and how it may impact her constituents,” read the documentation.

According to the 2014 U.S. Census figures, there are more than 5,000 Ukranian-born residents in Connecticut— about 1.1 percent of the state’s population.

Esty’s second trip in 2015 was a week-long trip across Israel, paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliated of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC. The trip was valued at $9,000 per person. She also brought along her husband. They flew business class, according to the filing.

Sen. Chris Murphy, who was accompanied by his wife on a $21,000 trip to Morocco in 2013 at the expense of the German Marshall Fund, had no filings in 2015 and 2016.

Browse details on all the filings below.

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