San Diego San Diego Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis has turned up on a list of lucky lawmakers who went on a five-day winter getaway to balmy San Juan, Puerto Rico, this February thanks to the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that sponsors legislative junkets to attractive destinations like beach resorts and European castles. Aspen shelled out $7036 for Davis and her husband to attend its No Child Left Behind conference, along with colleagues including Indiana Republican senator Richard Lugar and California Democratic congressman George Miller, from February 20 through 25. Aspen, a nonprofit corporation that says it's "dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue," doesn't directly lobby the legislators but is financially backed by organizations that do, including the Confederation of Indian Industry, which cosponsors Aspen Institute India.
This isn't the first time Davis and her spouse have received freebies from Aspen; last August, the couple spent five days in Kraków, Poland, at a "U.S.-Russia-Europe Relations" conference worth $4630. And last May, they went to Punta Mita, a posh resort near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a "U.S. policy in Latin America" meeting costing $3175 for lodging and $2025 for meals.
Meanwhile, GOP congressman Darrell Issa stuck closer to home, getting a $1302 free ticket, including food, travel, and lodging, to attend the Heritage Foundation's "conservative policy conference" in Baltimore with his wife on February 1 and 2. Issa, who is on the House Select Intelligence Committee, is the only member of the local congressional delegation who has traveled at public expense since last November. He was in Europe from November 28 through December 2, costing taxpayers $9499. On December 13 he left for two days in Europe at a cost of $11,116.