In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, Congress passed new ethics rules that prevent lobbyists from paying for lawmakers' travel, but according to The New York Times, these rules are rife with loopholes that have allowed lobbyist-funded nonprofits to pay for trips such as Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.'s (R-WI) junket to Liechtenstein, where he toured a prince's castle, and the Congressional Black Caucus' four-day conference at a casino resort in Tunica, Miss. The new ethics rules, intended to prevent lobbyists from funding posh congressional junkets, are rife with loopholes. For example, although lobbyists can't pay for travel, their corporate clients are allowed to. Lobbyists and companies have gotten around the spirit of the rules by giving money to nonprofits, which in turn fund trips. Far clarifying just who is paying for what in Washington, the unintended effect of the rules may be to obfuscate just who is paying to fly lawmakers to the likes of the Alps, China, and Jerusalem.
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