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Lamar Alexander took only one trip in February 2012, to San Diego for a conference on Chinese economic growth and the trade repercussions of it. But like Cooper, Alexander's office said such trips are essential.
But Cooper and other Tennessee members say the trips are anything but play. They say they're traveling to valuable policy conferences, benefiting their work in Omega Seamaster Gold Vintage
Congressional watchdogs say groups offer the trips because they want members to know their viewpoints.
Also taking just one trip was Rep. John Duncan Jr., R Knoxville, while Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R Brentwood, and Diane Black, R Gallatin, took two each. Rep. Phil Roe, R Johnson City, took three. One of Black's, though, was to Nairobi, Kenya from Aug. 15 25, 2012 and sponsored by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation. It cost $15,265.
($1,895). Sea Island, Ga., March 8 11, 2012; American Enterprise Institute; sessions on foreign policy, health care and other congressional issues ($4,035).
Cooper leads Tennessee in privately funded travel
"Our relationship with China represents one of our nation's greatest challenges going forward, and Senator Alexander was fortunate to attend the China seminar hosted by the nonprofit Aspen Institute, which regularly hosts such conferences for policymakers," said Jim Jeffries, the senator's spokesman. "These seminars have the added benefit of not being paid for by taxpayers."
Congress. Cooper went to Madison, Wis., for a discussion of clean air policy, and to Istanbul, Turkey, for discussions about foreign policy that Cooper says related to his seat on the House Armed Services Committee.
"I try to learn as much about America's role in the world as I can," Cooper said in a statement. "As the only Tennessean on the Armed Services Committee, it's my job to know the world's danger spots. And the meetings were approved in advance by the (House) Ethics Committee."
One of the leading sponsors of trips for the Tennessee delegation was the Washington based Aspen Institute, which describes itself as a nonpartisan educational and policy studies group.
It's a defense echoed by his colleagues across Capitol Hill. All members of Congress combined to take $3.7 million in such travel in 2013 alone, the highest total in a decade.
Taking no Omega Seamaster Deville Watch privately funded trips were Republican Sen. Bob Corker, as well as Reps. Scott DesJarlais, R Jasper; Stephen Fincher, R Frog Jump; and Chuck Fleischmann, R Ooltewah. Jim Cooper's travels Madison, Wis., June 21 23, 2013, the Center for Clean Air Policy; discussed Congress, the budget and energy policy ($1,007). Istanbul, Turkey, April 2 7, 2013; the Aspen Institute; topics related to foreign policy ($11,404). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Aug. Association of Former Members of Congress; economic and foreign policy issues ($10,873). Sea Island, Ga., March 7 10, 2013; American Enterprise Institute; world economy, foreign relations and education policy ($4,380). Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 20 22, 2012: Alliance for Health Reform; meeting of Bipartisan Congressional Health Policy Conference Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 2017
A compilation of records by Political MoneyLine shows Rep. Jim Cooper, D Nashville, led other Tennessee members in accepting such trips during those years, taking seven that were worth a combined $50,108. The two year total for the state delegation was $102,728.
The institute paid for all of the trips that Rep. Steve Cohen, D Memphis, accepted in 2012 to Sao Paulo, Brazil; San Diego; and Brussels, Belgium; plus one in February 2013 to Bangalore, India. They cost a combined $25,918, the next highest total after Cooper's.
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