Rehberg’s South American boondoggle: ‘Fact-finding Mission or Vacation?’

Taxpayer-funded vacation ‘all but guaranteed no work would be done’

Rehberg tangoed with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars

BILLINGS, Mont.—Few congressional trips have raised sharper debate behind the scenes than lobbyist-turned-Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s taxpayer-funded vacation to South America.

During his 12 years in Congress, Rehberg has enjoyed 15 taxpayer-funded trips overseas in 34 different countries.

In February of 2005, Rehberg joined nine other U.S. Representatives on an 11-day getaway to what Cox News Service called “some of the most desirable tourist destinations in the Western Hemisphere” [Cox News Service, 10/26/2007].

Rehberg hopscotched around Panama, Argentina, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago aboard an Air Force Boeing 737 at an estimated cost of $320,000 to taxpayers.

Rehberg’s party spent an estimated $100,000 luxury hotels and gourmet meals. Tens of thousands of dollars were also spent on the delegation’s staffing needs.

The U.S. State Department’s Dianne Graham, who helped plan Rehberg’s vacation, later said the trip was a waste of taxpayer money.

“In my 27 years with the Department I’ve seen some (congressional trips) that are boondoggles, but this one is really egregious,” Graham told Cox News Service, adding that “the itinerary all but guaranteed that ‘no work’ would be done.” [Cox News Service, 10/26/2007].

In Buenos Aires Rehberg took in a tango show.  He cruised around the tip of South America to see the famed penguins of Tierra del Fuego, then to the water falls of Iguacu in Brazil, and even forayed into the Amazon jungle. The trip concluded with a stint at a beach resort in Tobago.

This was the second getaway Rehberg was invited to by Congressman Richard Pombo, the powerful chairman of the U.S. House Resources Committee. Shortly after their vacation Pombo introduced a controversial plan to sell of Montana’s prized hunting land which Rehberg supported, despite an outcry of opposition from Montana sportsmen.

“We know Dennis Rehberg isn’t a rancher, but he sure makes a good tourist—as long as it means spending taxpayer dollars,” said Montanans for Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff.  “After running up a bill that cost us taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, Montanans are reminded that Congressman Rehberg is only looking out for himself.”

Read more about Rehberg’s South American ‘boondoggle’ HERE.

View Congressman Rehberg’s vacation on Pinterest HERE.

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