San Diego Democrat Susan Davis, traditionally the county's top junketeering member of Congress, has not disappointed this summer.
In the past, the Kensington resident has been off to Vienna, Tokyo, Barcelona, Canada's Whistler Resort in British Columbia, and Puerto Vallarta, among a host of other exotic destinations, paid for by foundations and think tanks linked to special interests.
Last month, Davis traveled to Israel with husband Steve for a ten-day trip (August 2 through August 12) arranged by the American Israel Education Foundation, an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which styles itself as “America’s pro-Israel lobby.”
Meals, lodging, and other expenses for the pair paid for by the foundation added up to $17,908, according to a Davis post-trip filing posted online by Legistorm.com.
"As a member of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Education and the Workforce, it is important to discuss foreign affairs and education issues important to U.S. policy," said her disclosure, received August 27 by the House Committee on Ethics. Thirty-six other members of Congress were invited; the filing doesn't say how many made the trip.
Scheduled events on the itinerary included an "insider briefing on Iran" from Israeli reserve major general Amos Yadlin, director of the country's Institute for National Security Studies and immediate past head of the Israel Defense Forces intelligence branch.
"One cannot understand Israel's position on Iran's nuclear development program without understanding the trauma of the Holocaust,” according to an "explanation of visits" included in the material.
"Israelis view threats to its destruction in light of the events of the 1930s and 1940s, when the German government's threats to exterminate the Jewish people were not taken seriously by the international community."
Other highlights of the journey included a talk regarding the "Ethics of the Israel Defense Forces" and a sit-down with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A visit with wounded Israeli soldiers followed, as did a tour of Masada, site of the bloody Roman siege and mass suicide, the itinerary says.
According to the Davis filing, "Member and spouse stayed 3 days at own expense, and departed Tuesday, August 12, 2014."
Then Davis and her husband were off for Istanbul, Turkey, for an eight-day trip sponsored by the Aspen Institute, a frequent past provider of junkets to Davis and her husband.
In February of last year, the traveling pair went on a $17,096 trip to India, courtesy of the nonprofit, which has derived its funding from corporate contributors including Microsoft, PepsiCo, Levi Strauss, Duke Energy, and Credit Suisse.
Additional sponsors of the Turkey travel junket, on which 16 other House members were also invited, were listed as the Carnegie Corporation of New York, as well as the Luce, MacArthur, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund foundations.
The foundations paid Davis’s and her husband’s $13,533 tab for the junket, during which she was to "meet and discuss issues regarding national defense" and "U.S. policy in the Middle East" with "foreign officials and scholars with foreign policy expertise," said her disclosure. The congresswoman reported that the couple foot their own bill from August 13 through August 15.
"Whither Iraq?" asked one topic of discussion. "Iraq's territorial integrity and its future as a nation state are in serious jeopardy." Another sought to explain, "How Iran's Internal Dynamics Affects its Nuclear and Regional Ambitions."
Though the official itinerary offered nothing in the way of shopping trips or dining details, the Marti Istanbul Hotel, where the couple was put up, advertises itself as a "glamorous property...within easy reach to all major historic sites and ancient bazaars, as well as a short ride to the famed Bosphorus shores.
"The Hotel offers a full range of luxury services and amenities, from tastefully appointed restaurants and generous meeting facilities to an exceptional, top-floor Spa."