WASHINGTON - June 28 - More than 25,000 public documents detailing the privately funded travel taken by members of Congress and their aides from January 2000 to June 2005, was made public today by the Center for Public Integrity.
The database, which can be accessed at http://www.publicintegrity.org , is the product of nearly a year's worth of investigative research done by Center staff, American Public Media reporters and Northwestern University Medill School students.
Users will be able to look up specific travelers, destinations, costs, and sponsors of nearly 23,000 privately sponsored trips taken by lawmakers and their staff. The information will also be linked to the travel documents themselves, giving journalists and the public a chance to conduct their own reporting and analysis.
The "Power Trips" database is a major breakthrough in reporting on congressional travel. Forms related to such travel are often kept out of public view, filed in a difficult-to-read manner, or left incomplete. As investigators discovered during the course of their research:
-- The House of Representatives' forms are kept in a sub- basement of the Cannon House Office Building, where the public copies are often hard to read, torn and misfiled. It is against House rules to digitally scan the documents.
-- The Senate travel disclosure documents are stored in a computer system in the Hart Senate Office Building, but the records are not available online.
"Power Trips: Congressional Staffers Share the Road" revealed that members of Congress and their staffs took nearly $50 million worth of privately sponsored trips to places around the world. Often this travel was sponsored by groups with legislative interests before Congress.
The study's main findings were released on June 5
(To view the press conference: http://www.publicintegrity.org/powertrips/default.aspx?act=clips )
To learn about the creation of the database, read the methodology http://www.publicintegrity.org/powertrips/default.aspx?act=methodology
To access the "Power Trips" database, visit the search page: