From the NY Post:
Private groups — especially the pro-Israel lobby — spent $165,500 jetting New York City-area Congress members around the world last year to such destinations as Tel Aviv, Turkey and Italy, government travel records show.
Last year reflected a resurgence in the number of congressional junkets, as lawmakers have learned to take advantage of a loophole in a 2007 ban on trips paid for by companies with lobbyists.
The restrictions don’t apply to such nonprofits as think tanks, advocacy groups or universities. Those groups took local lawmakers on 11 junkets in 2011.
The most expensive trip for a local Congress member went to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan-Queens), who enjoyed a $24,000 jaunt to Israel in August, paid for by the education foundation.
Maloney also visited Italy in October on a $9,700 trip sponsored by the Collegium Ramazzini, an academy aimed at advancing occupational and health issues.
“I’ve always found it valuable to get out of the Beltway bubble, both to see the facts on the ground in nations that are important to the United States and to be learning those facts with other members in less-pressured surrounding,” Maloney explained.
Rep. Yvette Clark (D-Brooklyn) took two trips to Israel worth a combined $18,700.
And Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) made two trips — one a $12,900 junket to Israel and a second $10,050 excursion to Kiev, Ukraine.
The latter trip was paid for by the Jewish Federation of the Ukraine. Engel sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), who is also on the committee, visited Istanbul on a $17,307 trip sponsored partly by the Congressional Study Group on Turkey.