Rehberg’s 2005 European vacation prompts media investigation

Lobbyists influence Congressman during another taxpayer-funded trip overseas

BILLINGS, Mont. – There’s a little-known fact about a controversial 2005 European vacation for members of Congress that prompted an ethics investigation by the Wall Street Journal: Congressman Dennis Rehberg was on it.

The campaign of Montana farmer Jon Tester has discovered that Rehberg attended the questionable taxpayer-funded trip to Europe—one of Rehberg’s 15 taxpayer-funded trips overseas during his time in Congress.

The Wall Street Journal discovered that Rehberg was entertained by the government-contracting giant Siemens during a gourmet dinner in Heidelberg, Germany. Siemens reportedly flew its Washington-based lobbyists to Germany just to attend the dinner with Rehberg. [Wall Street Journal, 10/27/2006]

Soon after the dinner, Rehberg received campaign contributions from Siemens’ political fundraising committee and three of its lobbyists.

In France, while still on taxpayer dime, defense contractor Lockheed Martin treated Rehberg to dinner at the posh Hotel de Crillon, “one of the best dining venues in Paris.” The average entrée at the award-winning restaurant costs $97.

Federal law forbids members of Congress from soliciting gifts from special interests, and the U.S. House of Representatives only allows members to participate special interest group events if 25 other guests take part.

But when pressed by the Wall Street Journal, Rehberg’s trip leader dodged questions about whether Rehberg’s events violated U.S. House ethics rules. The lack of disclosure over how the federal contractors learned about Rehberg’s trip or got a hold of the itineraries necessary to plan the events prompted the newspaper to determine that Rehberg and his colleagues broke the law.

“No matter what country Dennis Rehberg is in or who paid for him to get there, he still refuses to hold himself accountable to Montana,” said Montana’s for Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff.

More information about Rehberg’s taxpayer-funded vacation is online HERE.

View Rehberg’s vacation on Pinterest HERE.

FUN FACT:  Rehberg’s friend and go-to-guy for special interest perks, Leo Giacometto, represented Siemens and was one of Rehberg’s campaign contributors.  The other two lobbyists representing Siemens were employed at Giacometto’s lobbying firm, GAGE International.

More on Rehberg’s taxpayer-funded government vacations: