Lobbyist-turned-Congressman treated to red carpets and flower leis
BILLINGS, Mont. – When lobbyist-turned-Congressman Dennis Rehberg ditched Montana for a luxury tropical getaway to the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, America’s taxpayers got stuck with the bill.
During his 12 years in Congress, Rehberg has enjoyed 15 taxpayer-funded trips overseas in 34 different countries.
In 2004 Rehberg, along with his wife, flew to the South Pacific island nations in a luxury jet operated by the U.S. military. While the Rehbergs paid nothing for their travel, Montana taxpayers paid as much as $20,000 per hour for the 16-hour flight.
Rehberg’s taxpayer-funded vacation began with a movie-star welcome. According to the Pacific Daily News, greeters literally rolled out a red-carpet for Rehberg’s jet, draped him with exotic flower leis and treated him to “a performance by cultural dancers.” [Pacific Daily News, 1/17/2004].
Rehberg’s exotic escape also featured visits to historical sites, including a boat cruise through the famed Nan Madol Ruins.
No vacation would be complete without a five-star gourmet meal. And that’s exactly what the Rehbergs enjoyed—at taxpayer expense—at the renowned Cliff Rainbow Hotel. Their party enjoyed a dinner reception and a show complete with traditional dances.
Traveling on taxpayer dime isn’t just about enjoying lavish vacations. Special interests often use the trips to curry favor with Members of Congress.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Chairmen of [Congressional] committees and subcommittees often invite members and their spouses to places…as a way of building personal ties that translate into support on important votes.”
Accompanying Rehberg to the islands was Congressman Richard Pombo, the powerful chairman of the U.S. House Resources Committee. A little over a year after their vacation to the South Pacific, Pombo introduced a controversial plan to sell of Montana’s prized hunting land. Despite strong opposition from Montana sportsmen, Rehberg sponsored the measure and voted to pass Pombo’s bill.
“Rehberg’s decision to use taxpayer dollars to pay for a family getaway epitomizes the Congressman’s wrong priorities,” said Montanans for Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff. “Dennis Reberg’s habit of taking taxpayer-funded vacations overseas reminds Montanans, that for the right price, the Congressman’s votes are for sale.”
Read more about Rehberg’s South Pacific getaway on taxpayer dollars HERE.
View Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s exotic tropical getaway on Pinterest HERE.
More on Rehberg’s taxpayer-funded government vacations: