Barbara Boxer,  Dianne Feinstein

CA-Sen: Why Don’t You Pay for Your Own Political Junkets Senator Boxer?

I mean, after all, you are a RICH MILLIONAIRE and California’s other U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein pays her own way.

Since 2000, Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, has taken 18 trips, sponsored by outside organizations, at a value of $97,975.

Naturally, if you want to learn about the Islamic world, you go to… Paris, France. With your spouse. For a week. At a cost of $12,272, as Boxer did in 2008.

If you want to become more familiar with the impact on U.S. policy on Latin America, clearly, you go to…. the Punta Mita beach resort in Mexico. With your spouse. Three times, in 2006, 2005 and 2002, at a cost of roughly $6,000 per trip.

If you want to learn more about U.S.-Russia-European relations, you go to… Dublin, Ireland for five days, at a cost of more than $6,000, as she did in 2005. (I salute her taste.) Or perhaps you go to London, at a cost of $8,260, as she did in 2002.

The Aspen Institute was most often underwriting the cost of Boxer’s trips; in addition to the destinations above, the group covered the costs of Boxer’s trips to the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, the outdoor sports resort town of Banff, Alberta, and Barcelona, Spain.

I won’t begrudge a lawmaker for attending an AIPAC conference; but I’ll bet an initiation to one in Hawaii must be more tempting than the usual annual meeting in Washington. Boxer found the time for that one in 2000.

And lest one think, ‘oh, every senator does this,’… some don’t. In 2005, the California press started to notice the wide disparity between the travel expenses of Boxer and the state’s other senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein: “Ms. Boxer’s 14 privately funded trips averaged out to nearly $5,300 apiece. In sharp contrast, Ms. Feinstein averaged about $292 per trip.”

Feinstein’s spokesman, Howard Gantman, gently put it that his boss “does prefer to pay her own way.”

Taking a vacation is OK, Senator. But, what kind of influence are you selling by taking these outside donations for obvious junkets.