When millionaire GOP congressman Darrell Issa made his latest semiregular appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher in August, the show forked over $600 for a round-trip limo ride to and from CBS Television City in Los Angeles, according to congressional financial disclosures. But Democratic House member Susan Davis and her husband Steve nabbed a better summer getaway. The corporate-funded Aspen Institute paid $4712 to host the couple at the posh Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada, on August 17 through 22 for a conference entitled “Improving ‘No Child Left Behind’: Linking World-Class Education Standards to America’s Economic Recovery.” The program notes that “by several measurements, the U.S. is no longer first in the world in high school and college graduation rates, and its K-12 indicators lag.”
But if the conference was held to discuss the economic and educational travails of the United States, why do it out of the country? “Easy access from both East and West Coasts,” says the Davis disclosure statement. And why the Rimrock, which according to its website “is a first-class AAA/CAA Four Diamond Hotel located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park,” with “exceptional views of the Canadian Rockies, fine dining, [and] a luxury spa”? Because, the Davis disclosure says, the venue offered “security, conference facilities, telecommunications and reasonable costs.” Besides Davis and her husband, 12 other members of Congress and their significant others also went along for the late-summer junket.