Recent congressional travel sponsored by the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association highlights how organizations that lobby may fund trips for members of Congress who are sponsoring legislation that affect them.
The PRMA trip attracted at least two congressmen, including Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who filed his disclosure first and brought his wife along. Del. Pedro Pierluisi (D-P.R.) also participated in the group's annual meeting in Fajardo to speak on a tax bill the organization supports. The travelers were treated to lush accommodations at the El Conquistador Resort.
The pre-trip disclosure by PRMA estimated that each night's stay should cost around $285 but Gutierrez's tab came in at $1535. The trip disclosure says the trip was from June 1-4 - three nights - although it says he spent June 3 at personal expense, suggesting he spent only two nights at private expense. Ethics rules limit stays on the dime of lobbying organizations to one night - two nights with scheduling exigencies. Both possibilities suggest that his accommodations cost more than $750 a night, which indicates he was treated to a relatively lavish suite at the resort.
The filing also indicates that Gutiérrez spoke on a tax bill he is co-sponsoring in the House which would "attract new manufacturing activities to the United States and Puerto Rico, a very initial objective in today's weak economy." The connection between the bill and recent lobbying activities by the PRMA is unclear.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this item erroneously indicated that Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) was on the trip. While he was invited, his office indicates he did not end up going.