Brody Mullins & TW Farnam:
The expenses racked up by U.S. lawmakers traveling here for a conference last month included one for the “control room.”
Besides rooms for sleeping, the 12 members of the House of Representatives rented their hotel’s fireplace-equipped presidential suite and two adjacent rooms. The hotel cleared out the beds and in their place set up a bar, a snack room and office space. The three extra rooms — stocked with liquor, Coors beer, chips and salsa, sandwiches, Mrs. Fields cookies and York Peppermint Patties — cost a total of about $1,500 a night. They were rented for five nights.
While in Scotland, the House members toured historic buildings. Some shopped for Scotch whisky and visited the hotel spa. They capped the trip with a dinner at one of the region’s finest restaurants, paid for by the legislators, who got $118 daily stipends for meals and incidentals.
Eleven of the 12 legislators then left the five-day conference two days early.
The tour provides a glimpse of the mixture of business and pleasure involved in legislators’ overseas trips, which are growing in number and mostly financed by the taxpayer. Lawmakers travel with military liaisons who carry luggage, help them through customs, escort them on sightseeing trips and stock their hotel rooms with food and liquor. Typically, spouses come along, flying free on jets operated by the Air Force. Legislative aides come too. On the ground, all travel in chauffeured vehicles.