The Republican chief of staff of the congressional Joint Taxation committee is drawing heat for traveling so much on somebody else's tab. Kenneth Kies, a former tax lobbyist, accepted 46 free trips from private groups between January 1, 1996, and April 14 of this year at a total cost of nearly $65,000, according to a survey by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Included in the tally was La Jolla, where he participated in the Salk Institute's annual seminar to wine and dine powerful politicians who have a say in how much federal research money the nonprofit institute rakes in. Salk paid a total of $6500 for the five-day trip, Roll Call reports. While in town, Kies also gave a speech to New York University's Institute on Federal Taxation, also junketing here. That appearance was worth another $2150. Kies was accompanied by his wife, tax lobbyist Kathleen Kies, but he says he has recused himself from working on any tax bills she has an interest in, so there was no conflict.
Just like Mike
Attorney Michael Aguirre has San Diego port commissioners in a bit of a bind. Last August, the commissioners voted to give $250,000 to the Republican convention, on condition that the GOP provide a full accounting of the money spent. The gift came at the last minute, after GOP host committee honcho Gerald Parsky told the port board that the committee was going way over budget and needed cash in a hurry. In the end, the convention cost more than $30 million, an embarrassing new record, with money being spent on everything from lavish parties for Susan Golding to boat trips for visiting tobacco lobbyists. Somehow, though, the port district never got its accounting of where its own contribution went, a shortfall Aguirre discovered last week when he asked to see the paperwork on the deal and port officials told him there wasn't any. It's illegal for the port to just hand out cash; Aguirre says he'll investigate further.
Brave new pants
Latest invention from researchers at Point Loma's Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center: "smart pants" for marines. The polyester trousers, outfitted with fiber-optic cables connecting fabric-embedded sensors to a tiny remote transmitter, are supposed to tell headquarters when a marine is shot down during battle ... Five U.S. sailors from San Diego are in the Ural Mountains this week. The sailors are joining with five U.S. soldiers to compete with the Russians in a scouting and weapons firing competition, according to Tass, the Russian news service.