Speaking of Congressional Ethics… Who paid for SJL's trip to the Jackson Funeral
by Bob Price on September 3, 2010 at 11:58 AM
With all the recent news about congressional ethics scandals surrounding Representatives Charlie Rangle (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and now Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the question comes back to mind: Who paid for Sheila Jackson Lee's trip to Los Angeles for the Michael Jackson Funeral?
Everyone heard her eulogy of Michael Jackson at his funeral last year. We all saw her proudly raise the Congressional Resolution (never approved by Congress). But, for some reason, the question of who paid for this trip has never been answered.
Houston's KPRC (NBC, Channel 2) was asked that question by one of their viewers. They decided it was a question worthy of investigation so they initiated an "Open Records Request" to Rep. Lee's chief of staff asking for a copy of receipts and expense reports to cover all expenses related to travel to Michael Jackson's funeral and wanting to know what funds paid for these expenses.
Imagine their surprise when the answer that returned was "The Texas Open Records Act does not apply to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's office." The letter from her office went on to say, "Congress and its members are also excluded from queries under the 'Freedom of Information Act.'"
WHAT!!!? Yes, that's right. The law passed by Congress to ensure a more open and honest government DOES NOT APPLY TO CONGRESS!
Amy Davis, Channel 2 News, then sent another email to the Congresswoman's staff. "While I understand that Jackson Lee is not required to comply with Texas Open Records or FOIA requests, please accept this request for the information as a constituent and a member of the media." NO REPLY!
At this point one would think the Congresswoman would have an answer prepared for this question if it came up. Apparently not! Click here to see the full story and the Congresswoman's answer to this question.
As of this writing, I could still find no answer to this question. So, yesterday morning, I called the Congresswoman's Washington, DC office, identified myself as being with TexasGOPVote.com and asked if this question had ever been answered. An interesting conversation ensued with the staffer after she put me on hold for a couple minutes to get the story straight.
TGV: "Has the question of who paid for the Congresswoman's trip to the Michael Jackson funeral ever been answered?"
SJL Staffer: "Yes, it has been answered."
TGV: "Great! Can you tell me what that answer is?"
SJL Staffer: "um… well.. You are with TexasGOPVote. You are trying to get me to say something."
TGV: "Only the truth."
SJL Staffer: "No comment." Followed by dial tone….
I guess that's as straight as it gets from Congresswoman Jackson Lee.
At this time, I have a call into Amy Davis with KPRC to see if she got anything other than "No comment". We will let you know if anything results from this.
Two points here. First, why does the Congresswoman think it is an important use of her time to traipse about the country to attend a pop icon's funeral who was not from this area? A top congressional aide told the Washington Times, "There are so many other issues before the House, between health care and appropriations bills, that is totally our focus," said the aide, speaking privately because of the sensitivity of the resolution. "It's a distraction," the aide said.
Secondly, why does the Congresswoman think she is above explaining who pays for her trips?
Does this representative have her priorities straight? Does she support open and honest government?
I think not. What do you think?