Sunday, February 19, 2006

Paying for the Veeps Hobby

You help pay for Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting trips. The Center for Public Integrity reports $1 million in the Veep's annual budget for travel -- and that pays for his hunting trips.

Mr Cheney pays for hunting fees, lodging, and fines -- like the $7.00 for the misssing bird stamp from last week's hunt. But you pick up expenses for Secret Service agents, military aides, and the operating costs of Air Force Two.

In return, the Washington Post reports the Veep gets to socialize with politicians and potential campaign contributors:

"Since becoming vice president in January 2001, Cheney has continued to mix work and pleasure in these trips, at least in his choice of companions. Besides [Sen Lindsey] Graham (R-SC) and [Sen Saxby] Chambliss (R-GA), Cheney has gone hunting with a variety of other politicians, including Republican Sens. John Thune (S.D.), Trent Lott (Miss.) and Jim DeMint (S.C.), South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), former treasury secretary Nicholas F. Brady and former senators Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and Zell Miller (D-Ga.).

Although associates say Cheney does not use hunting trips as an explicit fundraising vehicle, he has brought along prominent business figures, including Ohio billionaire Leslie H. Wexner, whose retail empire includes such chains as Limited Stores, Express, Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret. Katharine Armstrong, whose family owns the Texas ranch where the shooting accident occurred, is a registered lobbyist. And of course, Cheney's most famous hunting partner before Harry Whittington was Justice Antonin Scalia, a fact that sparked controversy because the Supreme Court was ruling in a case involving Cheney and Scalia declined to recuse himself."

And remember those "secure, undisclosed locations" we often heard Mr Cheney was hiding in after 9/11? Turns out a lot of those offered up great bird hunting. (WashPost)

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