Walsh Violating Ethics Rules?
The WSJ has some interesting stories to tell:
Instead of paying for the meals out of their government allowances, they were treated by a parade of defense contractors and lobbyists, most of which sent personnel to Europe to host the meals, according to foreign-service officials and the companies. The meals gave Boeing Co., Lockheed MartinCorp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and others private access to legislators who control billions of dollars in government contracts.
One problem: The hitherto undisclosed free meals likely violated House rules and possibly federal law, experts on congressional ethics say. House rules, designed to prevent private interests from unduly influencing legislators'work, bar members -- with some exceptions -- from accepting such meals on congressional trips abroad.
Rep. James T. Walsh, chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee that deals with military facilities, visited Germany in 2005 on a congressional trip. There, a big federal contractor paid for dinner for the New York Republican's group in Heidelberg, according to the company and House staffers.
In midsummer 2005, Mr. Walsh led a tour of U.S. overseas military installations, including in Germany. On that trip, Munich-based Siemens AG, a big U.S. federal contractor, paid for a dinner for the group in Heidelberg. Siemens flew over from Washington some of its government-relations executives to host the dinner, says a person who was present.
On the same codel, which also stopped in France, aerospace contractor Lockheed took advantage of an exception to the rule that allows delegations to eat at "widely attended events," which the House defines as including atleast 25 guests in addition to the delegation. Lockheed says dozens of people attended the dinner it hosted at the Hotel de Crillon, one of Paris's fanciest hotels, overlooking the Place de la Concorde and the Seine.
When first asked about the Siemens dinner, Mr. Walsh said about 25 people in the event met the exception for "widely attended events." When reminded that the rule requires the attendance of 25 people in addition to legislators and spouses, he said perhaps a larger number had attended. "It was over a year and a half ago. I wasn't counting heads," he said. Siemens declines to say how many people attended.
A $160,000 salary, a taxpayer funded travel stipend that allows him to fly from Washington to Syracuse and back weekly, a $400 a month Jeep lease and free trips to fancy European trips. This is the Congressman from Syracuse?! Whether or not Walsh broke any rules, he sure knows how to live it up on the backs of the working man.