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Sunday, July 31, 2011

US Senators Spending More On Travel Despite Budget Cuts

A Channel 2 Action News investigation found U.S. senators spending more tax dollars traveling the globe than ever before. Despite fierce budget cuts, congressional records show elected officials are racking up record expenses on flights, food, fuel and sometimes alcohol.

Just after the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss traveled there to visit metro-area troops on the front lines and share Thanksgiving dinner. Documents show one of several overseas trips Chambliss has made since early 2009. The costs of the trips totals more than $38,000.

The same documents show Georgia's other senator, Johnny Isakson, has traveled to Afghanistan, too. He also traveled to Germany, Kenya and Tanzania.

According to the records, Georgia senators aren't alone. Other senators have sipped cocktails at the Eiffel Tower and visited Greece, London and China. Some spent time at the luxurious Conrad Hotel in Brussels, which boasts spa service and an in-house restaurant specializing in shrimp croquettes, king prawns and French apricot tarts.

Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane found it is difficult to get the information. Much of it is only available in a small office on Capitol Hill. He found it on one set of computers in an old-fashioned database. It showed that senators spent at least $10 million on traveling over the past two years. (more)