The House Rules are very clear. As a member, you can’t have anyone pay for your travel unless it is related to official business. If the trip is “substantially recreational,” you have to pay for it yourself. From the House “Gift and Travel” booklet:
Where a Member, officer or employee proposes to accept travel under this provision, the rule is very specific in requiring that a determination be made that the travel is in connection with the individual’s official duties… Regarding this determination, the rule makes the fairly evident point that, “events, the activities of which are substantially recreational in nature, are not considered to be in connection with the duties of a Member . . . officer, or employee as an officeholder” (clause 5(b)(1)(B) of House Rule 26).
Was Tom DeLay’s trip to Scotland in 2000 “substantially recreational in nature”? You be the judge. Here are a couple new details about the 10 day trip from the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Abramoff hired Classic Heritage Tours in March 2000, months before the trip, which gave Mr. DeLay the chance to play three British Open-quality courses over four days.
Planning correspondence between [Abramoff’s] law firm at the time and Classic Heritage refer to the “Abramoff Golf Trip to Scotland.”
Of course, the recreational nature of the trip is only one of DeLay’s problems. Abramoff, a lobbyist, was not permitted to pay for the trip under any circumstances. Yet, the documents indicate “a fax from the law firm to Classic Heritage directs that the $19,595 ‘outstanding balance’ for the golf trip be charged to a Visa card identified with Mr. Abramoff at the law firm.”