Tag: OCE

Visiting the Office of Congressional Ethics About AIPAC Junkets to Israel

By Medea Benjamin

Two members of CODEPINK, Tighe Barry and myself, along with Grant Smith from IRmep had a meeting with three lawyers from the Office Of Congressional Ethics (including the OCE’s director) about the complaint we submitted regarding AIEF/AIPAC trips to Israel. We walked them through our complaint, including the growing body of evidence that AIEF functions more as a lobbying slush fund than a legitimate charitable nonprofit.

OCE explained the rules from their more narrow perspective. They said that while AIPAC might be taking advantage of every loophole, the trips may not be illegal. OCE explained that without documentable “factual evidence” of wrongdoing, they won’t initiate an investigation— and that it is up to us to provide that evidence.

Such evidence could include proof of AIPAC lobbyists contacting members to arrange the trips, AIPAC lobbyists traveling with members on the same jet liner, or AIEF “retaining or employing a lobbyist.” The OCE’s definition of a lobbyist is extremely narrow—and AIPAC claims to employ only nine such individuals on its domestic disclosures.

While OCE agreed that AIPAC may quite likely have had a hand in these trips, and may even be overstepping the lines of legality, we simply need more proof to trigger OCE action.

When we revealed the fact that AIEF has no employees, that 66% of its board are also AIPAC directors, and that the trips were organized by AIPAC staff, OCE claimed that was not illegal. Employees, if they are not registered lobbyists but simply “work for” a lobbyist group, are allowed to “volunteer their time” to work for AIEF. We were told that it is also legal for the executive director of AIEF to have his salary paid by AIPAC (which is the case now), because he is not a registered lobbyist. If any of the AIPAC lobbyists were involved in any aspect of the trip, that would be illegal, but this would also be pretty much impossible for us to prove. (And OCE clarified that if any proof were obtained illegally/or involved attorney/client privileged information, they would not be allowed to accept it as evidence.)

Continue reading »

CODEPINK’s Complaint to the Congressional Ethics Committee

I would like to file a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against the Congressional trips to Israel organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). These trips violate the Congressional Ethics Rules and should be prohibited.

1. Person filing the complaint:

Medea Benjamin, medea@codepink.org
Affiliated with CODEPINK: Women for Peace

2. American Israel Education Fund (AIEF) trips to Israel

3. Three trips during August recess

—one delegation for Democrats headed by Cong. Steny Hoyer
–two delegations for Republicans headed by Cong. Eric Cantor and Cong. Kevin McCarthy

Continue reading »

List of Representatives Going on an Israel Lobby Junket

Partial list of the 81 Congresspeople touring Israel on an AIPAC-affiliate junket during the August Congressional Recess:

First NameLast NamePolitical PartyState (District)
DanBenishekRepublicanMI (1)
GusBilirakisRepublicanFL
BruceBraleyDemocratFL
MoBrooksRepublicanAL (5)
Anne MarieBuerkleRepublicanNY
Eric
CantorRepublicanVA (7)
Russ
CarnahanDemocratMO (3)
KathyCastorDemocratFL
JudyChuDemocratCA
David
CicillineDemocratRI (1)
JimCostaDemocratCA
Yvette
ClarkeDemocratNY (11)
Mark
CritzDemocratPA (12)
JeffDenhamRepublicanCA (15)
ScottDesJarlaisRepublicanTN (4)
JoeDonnellyDemocratIN
JeffDuncanRepublicanSC
ReneeEllmersRepublicanNC
BlakeFarentholdRepublicanTX
StephenFinchnerRepublicanTN
Chuck
FleischmanRepublicanTN (3)
John
GaramendiDemocratCA (10)
CoryGardenerRepublicanCO
PaulGosarRepublicanAZ
Kay
GrangerRepublicanTX (12)
GeneGreenDemocratTX
TimGriffinRepublicanAZ
MichaelGrimmRepublicanNY (12)
Janice
HahnDemocratCA (36)
ColleenHanabusaDemocratHI
AndyHarrisRepublicanMD
NanHayworthRepublicanNY
Jaime
Herrera BuetlerRepublicanWA (3)
Adam
KinzingerRepublicanIL
RubenHinajosaDemocratTX
Steny
HoyerDemocratMD (5)
Jesse Jr.JacksonDemocratIL (2)
Eddie BerniceJohnsonDemocratTX
HankJohnsonDemocratGA
MikeKellyRepublicanPA (3)
RonKindDemocratWI
NitaLoweyDemocratNY
CarolynMaloneyDemocratNY
ThomasMarinoRepublicanPA
KevinMcCarthyRepublicanCA (22)
PatMeehanRepublicanPA
GwenMooreDemocratWI (4)
Bill
OwensDemocratNY (23)
Steven
PalazzoRepublicanMS (4)
ErikPaulsenRepublicanMN (3)
EdPerlmutterDemocratCO (7)
ToddPlattsRepublicanPA
TomPriceRepublicanGA (6)
BenQuayleRepublicanAZ
TomReedRepublicanNY (29)
David
RiveraRepublicanFL
Peter
RoskamRepublicanIL (6)
DennisRossRepublicanFL
Loretta
SanchezDemocratCA (47)
KurtSchraderDemocratOR
David
SchweikertRepublicanAZ (5)
TimScottRepublicanSC (1)
TerriSewellDemocratAL
Adam
SmithDemocratWA (9)
Steve
SoutherlandRepublicanFL (2)
MarlinStutzmanRepublicanIN
BettySuttonDemocratOH (13)
ScottTiptonRepublicanCO (3)
TimWahlbergRepublicanMI
AllenWestRepublicanFL (22)
Frederica
WilsonDemocratFL 17()
KevinYoderRepublicanKS (3)


Is your congressperson going to Israel instead of working in district during the recess?
Take action!

1. Tweet Congress with this message: Represent America, not Israel!

2. Send a letter to the editor of your local letter expressing your outrage if your Representative is going to Israel.

3. Visit your Congressperson’s office this month during the August Recess (when your Rep should be home).

Does Your Congressperson Represent You — or Israel?

9 August 2011 | AlterNet

In this time of economic austerity, when jobs are being slashed and Americans are fearful about their future, the Congressional recess is the time for our elected representatives to be home in their districts, reaching out to their constituents and servicing the people they are paid to represent. Instead, this August one out of every five representatives will be taking a junket to Israel, compliments of an affiliate of the Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) but still clocked in on the taxpayer’s dime.

Americans who have lost their jobs and seen their life savings evaporate because Congress can’t seem to get it together deserve an explanation of how this crisis will be solved. Following the recent debt debacle, the public is hungry for information about the mysterious 12-person “super committee” that will slash over one trillion dollars from the federal budget. But instead of opening their doors to their constituents, 81 members of Congress will be getting briefings from Israeli government officials, touring historic religious sites, and perhaps “seeking a salty dip in the Dead Sea.” Representative Steny Hoyer, who is leading the Democratic delegation, said he is pleased members of Congress have this opportunity “to gain a deeper understanding of the issues involved in increasing stability in the region.” One has to wonder whether our elected officials are more concerned about the stability of Israel or the well-being of American families.

Continue reading »