Ros-Lehtinen gets unwelcome national media attention
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is cited in a New York Times report today about questionable, corporate-sponsored trips by members of Congress and now, CNN has amplified the story across cableland.
In an interview on CNN, Times reporter Eric Lichtblau said Ros-Lehtinen's trip to Jerusalem on its face appeared to violate rules that prohibit lobbyists from planning trips. The Miami Republican's trip played in the third paragraph of the A1 newspaper story (read it here) which looked at various cases where ethics rules were violated or exploited.
Ros-Lehtinen stayed at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and attended a gala party at the Western Wall "as part of a weeklong conference that lobbyists and executives paid as much as $18,500 to attend," the Times reported.
In a statement today, Ros-Lehtinen said the trip was approved by the House and that it provided her with "the opportunity to discuss critical security issues." Full statement below.
“My trip to Israel in 2008 was approved in advance by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and was not at taxpayer expense. The trip provided me with the opportunity to discuss critical security issues with top Israeli officials, including then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Ambassador Dore Gold. The robust agenda also included a visit to the town of Sderot , a recurring target for attacks by Hamas and other extremists from Gaza :City; delivering remarks at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; and interviews with Israeli journalists. Throughout the trip, I conducted interviews and call-ins to media in my District to keep my constituents informed of my activities. At no time during the trip was I lobbied.”