Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis of San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood was once one of the House of Representatives’ most-traveled members, thanks to a bevy of nonprofit, corporation-supported foundations eager to provide her with free trips abroad, ostensibly to study vital world issues.
Four years ago, in August 2012, Davis placed 17th among the most freely traveled of the 535 members of the House and Senate, as tallied by the website Legistorm.com. From 2001 to 2012, according to the data, Davis racked up $200,652 on 28 jaunts to exotic destinations including Vienna, Tokyo, Barcelona, Canada’s Whistler Resort, and Puerto Vallarta, among many others. In May 2010, only months before the Tunisian revolution, she and husband Steve Davis journeyed to a swanky beach resort outside Tunis, thanks to $21,327 from the Aspen Institute. The subject of the weeklong getaway: “Political Islam: Policy Challenges for Congress.”
But as the years have passed, Davis, now 72, has begun slowing her pace. A free jaunt to England this summer by Davis with her husband was her first of the year, though she didn’t stint on the traditionally gratis high-dollar amenities. On August 10 she was off to London on a ten-day tour ending with a San Diego touchdown on August 20, according to Davis’s free travel-disclosure report, filed August 30. The congresswoman and her “accompanying relative” got total business-class jet travel of $11,036, along with lodging of $1550 and meals worth $775 each from Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, which “provides non-partisan educational forums for members of Congress on public policy issues.” The topic: “Assessing U.S. Interests and Strategy in an Unraveling Middle East.”
The couple was put up at London’s St. Pancras Hotel, says the filing, because it “has required technology and meeting space with security a key factor.” The hostelry’s website notes other advantages: “Beautifully restored and brimming with 5-star luxury, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London provides a truly unforgettable experience. Behind the fairytale façade that Sir George Gilbert Scott fashioned for the Midland Grand lies a hotel that will exceed your every expectation, blending Victorian splendor with modern style and service. Step inside the spectacular glazed entrance hall, and stride down the famous grand staircase to the Gilbert Scott Bar and Restaurant, with its brilliant cuisine.”
Overnights on the couple’s extended junket weren’t entirely covered by Aspen, with Davis and her husband anteing up for their own rooms and food, “at personal expense,” from August 16 to August 20, before heading home on Virgin Atlantic Airlines.