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In February we reported that two members of Republican congressman Darrell Issa's staff had hit the road, thanks to well-heeled special interests.

First, Laurent Morgan Crenshaw, an Issa legislative aide, headed for Las Vegas to attend the gadget-filled Consumer Electronics Show, thanks to the Consumer Electronics Association, which paid Crenshaw's travel expenses of $546.80, lodging worth $593.60, and meals costing $200, according to an expense report filed with the House.

Then it was the turn of Lawrence J. Brady, staff director of the Issa-chaired House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

He showed up at the "Congress of Tomorrow 2012 House Member Retreat," paid for by the Congressional Institute, which picked up Brady's lodging costs of $413.49 and meals worth $443.10, according to his February 1 House disclosure filing.

At the start of that event, held over three days in mid-January at Baltimore, Maryland's Inner Harbor Marriot Waterfront hotel, ABC News presented some details on how House members and their staffs had come to be wined and dined there:

"Helping finance the getaway are some of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists, who are paying $25,000 for personal access to the GOP retreat, which this year is dubbed 'Congress of Tomorrow,'" ABC reported.

"The lobbyists’ donations do not go directly to the Republican Party but instead are paid to the retreat’s sponsors, the Congressional Institute – a non-partisan, not-for-profit corporation that has planned the event for 24 years."

"Although attendance to most of the activities is restricted to members of Congress and their staff, lobbyists for corporations and associations that financially support the Congressional Institute are invited to join legislators at a reception and dinner Thursday night."

The institute's chairman is Dan Meyer, former Chief of Staff to House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Now Lorissa Bounds, Deputy Chief of Staff to San Diego Republican Brian Bilbray, has become the latest staffer from the local congressional delegation to enjoy the Congressional Institute's hospitality.

According to her post-travel disclosure form, filed with the House on May 18, Bounds spent from May 2 through May 4 at the Hyatt Chesapeake Bay resort in Cambridge, Maryland attending the annual "Chiefs of Staff Retreat."

Speakers included former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer and former GOP Sen. Jim Talent of Mississippi.

Topics included "ObamaCare and the Supreme Court" and "The Perils and Promise of Congressional Online Advertising."

Lodging expenses for Bounds were listed as $483.58 and meals for the event were $393.86. No travel costs were claimed.

"Meetings included ethics briefing, constituent communications best practices, office management, social media tools to communicate with constituents, policy briefings on issues of national significance, and opportunities to collaborate with colleagues," according to Bounds's filing.

UPDATE: Issa aide Dale Neugebauer also reported attending the event.

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nan shartel May 28, 2012 @ 8:34 p.m.

so what...it's the price of doing business


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