After Abramoff came reforms (Holyoke 274-275) with loopholes, as National Journal reports:
The 2007 rules prevent a lobbyist for a corporate client from planning or paying for a lawmaker’s trip. But the same rules allow such a trip if it’s paid for by a foreign government. So while it does remain illegal for, say, a Google lobbyist to plan and accompany a lawmaker on a free trip abroad, if that same lobbyist does so on behalf of Turkey, it’s perfectly legal. And if that lobbyist happens to have both corporate and foreign-government clients (as most do), they can still go abroad so long as it’s a country and not a company footing the bill.
And that’s only one of the loopholes the influence industry has exploited to help lawmakers score free travel. Today, a wide network of nonprofits — many with a clear agenda and some with excruciatingly tight ties to Washington’s biggest lobbying operations — are putting together international congressional excursions. Some of these paper nonprofits have no staff or space of their own; they simply share with a sister organization that lobbies. Yet ethics officials in Congress have deemed them to be independent enough. In one instance, a lobbyist literally registered a new nonprofit — in his own office — that went on to pay for congressional travel abroad.
Big corporations bankroll some nonprofits, whose trips, in turn, can feature stops at the businesses of their corporate funders. As a bonus, the growing use of 501(c)(3) nonprofits, which occupy the same charitable rung of the tax code as soup kitchens and the American Red Cross, means that the wealthy and corporate donors underwriting congressional travel can do so in secret and get a tax write-off along the way.
The Richest Counties in the US, with Median Household Income Estimate for 2013
- Loudoun County, VA $117,680
- Falls Church city, VA $117,452
- Los Alamos County, NM $110,930
- Fairfax County, VA $110,658
- Howard County, MD $108,503
- Hunterdon County, NJ $107,203
- Douglas County, CO $105,192
- Arlington County, VA $101,533
- Morris County, NJ $99,950
- Montgomery County, MD $97,873