Shame on Danny Burton

Dateline: Fri 05 Jan 2007

As for who really is the worst member of the U.S. Congress, one has to wonder if Indiana's Rep. Dan Burton isn't running first in that race.

The Star's Maureen Groppe in the Washington bureau reported today that Burton was the only member of the House to vote against ethics reforms for Congress members regarding privately-funded trips and gifts from lobbyists, including meals. The vote was 430-1, with Burton the lone opponent of the reform.

That is no doubt because he has enjoyed so many trips and other perks paid for by lobbying groups, including a very costly jaunt to Taiwan.

Groppe reported: "Burton ...took the single most expensive trip by the (Indiana) delegation last year. Burton and his wife traveled to Taiwan on a $15,520 trip paid for by the ROC-USA Business Council."

Burton is a member of the House International Relations Committee. He has accepted more than a dozen trips to Taiwan for himself or his aides over the past decade, says Groppe.

But the practice has drawn scrutiny in a scandal-plagued year. As a result, Groppe says, "the number of privately funded trips taken by Indiana's lawmakers fell from 71 in 2005 to 37 in 2006."

Also, she reports, the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan group that reviewed travel records for all lawmakers, found a Congress-wide decline. That group has tracked the millions of dollars spent on such trips.

Burton might try to excuse his travel by saying he's working on jobs for Indiana, but Gov. Mitch Daniels seems to have that tiger nicely by the tail. And if Burton was going on business trips, why is his wife traveling with him? Sounds like a case of noblesse oblige, pure and simple.

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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