Thursday, May 05, 2005

Congress Flying High With Coporate Interests

Rep Roy Blunt (R-MO) has hopped flights on corporate jets belonging to at around 30 companies that have interests before Congress.

No long lines, no security checks, and plenty of leg room.

Rep Blunt isn't alone. He's one of a dozen current and former Congressional leaders in key positions to fly on corporation owned jets. The Washington Post reports the jet-setting dozen took 360 flights between January 2001 and December 2004.

Reps Blunt and Tom DeLay (R-TX) are the two most frequent fliers on the list -- taking about one flight every 10 days. A total of 140 flights between them. Others on the list:

  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) -- 38 flights
  • Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) -- 15 flights
  • House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) -- 7 flights

Republican leaders took 265 flights since 2001, Democrat leaders took 95.

Congressmen get a taxpayer funded allowance to fly commercial flights. But there is no limit on the number of flights they can take on a company's plane. The flights don't fall under laws meant to limit corporate influence on Congress.

And what industries did the Post find paying for the flights?

  • Tobacco
  • Telecommunications
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Securities

And a host of other industries from restaurant chains to railroads.

Post reporters called some of the companies that provided the planes. Many of the companies say the Congressmen solicited the flights and the companies granted them the planes in an effort to get favors from the Congressmen.

Something to think about next time you're packed into coach nibbling on pretzels. (WashPost via MSNBC)

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