Marty Graham 3:19 p.m., Jan. 15
Filner Vietnam Trip Paid for by Lawyers Group
A trip last month to Vietnam by Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, running for mayor of San Diego, was paid for by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, a so-called non-governmental organization.
The group's causes include the plight of Vietnamese victims of the defoliant Agent Orange; defense of the "no war" clause in the Japanese constitution; and five Cubans who the lawyers maintain were wrongly convicted in U.S. federal court on espionage conspiracy charges.
According to a travel disclosure report filed by Filner January 25 and posted online by LegiStorm.com, the lawyers paid for his roundtrip coach airfare between the U.S and Vietnam worth $1938; the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin paid for food and lodging worth $680.
The nine-day trip, from January 3 through 12, featured a Hanoi reception given on January 9 by Vietnam's National Assembly vice-chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, according to a Vietnamese news service.
"At the reception, Ngan thanked Filner for his good sentiments and valuable support for Vietnam, saying that the visit is expected to help him understand more about the land and people of Vietnam," the news agency reported.
Filner's HR 2634, dubbed the “Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act," and awaiting debate in a House Foreign Affairs committee, would boost federal funding for U.S. veterans healthcare and furnish money to Vietnam for chemical cleanups and medical treatment in areas affected by Agent Orange.
According to the Filner disclosure, "The International Association of Democratic Lawyers has an interest in members of Congress learning about the effects of Agent Orange on the people of Vietnam and how parliamentarians in various countries can help to alleviate the pain and suffering of those affected."
Pictured: Filner in Danang, Vietam