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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida reps enjoy free trip to Israel



An group connected to an influential pro-Israel lobbying organization is paying for dozens of U.S. House members, including some from Florida, to spend part of their summer recess overseas.

The trips, which have have gotten little attention, come as concerns at home could not be more pressing. They are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, an arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Florida Reps. Dennis Ross and Gus Bilirakis and Steve Southerland are over there now and Reps. Kathy Castor and Frederica Wilson returned this week. A blogger named Rep. Steve Southerland, but we haven't confirmed that.

UPDATE 8/22: Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, is on the trip this week. He's there with his wife.

AIPAC-funded trips are nothing new but the size of the effort -- about 81 members have gone or are going -- is notable.

Below a picture of a group of Democrats from last week. Included are Castor (orange dress) and Wilson (hat).peres_hoyercongress.jpg

And here's a photo Rep. Ross posted on Facebook


[Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2011 6:09pm]


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