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tv   Q A  CSPAN  June 7, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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and that recovery is just under way now. and now this sets and and we've got a fight to get help for people who are out of work, but we cannot allow the federal government to goveoard regulati the oil industry because it will put more people out of work, and we want it to be safe. it should be safe but we have got to make sure to strike the right balance. . .
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>> define your job at "the wall street journal." >> i consider myself an investigative journalist. i try to look for the bad things in washington. people who are sometimes breaking the law but often pushing up against the law. i don't really have an exact definition. i sort of look for stories that if people picked up on that they would say that is wrong. five years at "the wall street journal." >> let me go back to march 31, 2006.
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lots of people in this town talk about this story to this day. it has to do with somebody named emily miller. give us the beginning. >> this is the heart of the jack abramoff scandal. he was a big-time republican lobbyist back in the day, released about five years ago. he made a lot of money from clients telling them how influential he was with republicans on capitol hill, particularly with tom delay. in order to get in bed with the delay crowd, he hired a lot of people at delay's office. he brought staffers to football games, baseball games, concerts. he opened a sushi restaurant that became one of the most popular places for young republicans to go out at night. there is a rumor that if you were a capitol hill staffer,
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you got a nice discount when you went to his restaurant. he really used all the tools that he could to get in good with the delay staffers and other republican staffers who could really make things happen for him. when he started going really over the line, he started flying staffers overseas for luxurious golf trips in scotland. he had a gulfstream jet he would fly people around. >> he is currently in prison. >> he is getting out pretty soon. emily miller, tony rudy, and michael scanlon were three of the mid-level staffers in his office who all got in a sort of weird relationship, where emily miller started dating michael scanlon.
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they ended up separating, and about the time they were separating, abramoff was being pursued by prosecutors. u%the prosecutors went to hero get some of the exact information about who was in charge of what, what were the overlapping relationships. she ended up being a helpful source for the justice department as they pursued abramoff. >> but you tell the story about how michael scanlon also said he had these big houses and how they were engaged on the west coast and were going to have a big wedding. all of a sudden, at the last minute there was a 24-year-old waitress. you suggest the prosecutors came to miss miller to help them build a case. did she play a big role in this?
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>> i think she played an important, behind-the-scenes role. i don't think she went to prosecutors and said here is all the documents, here is all the dirt, here is what they did wrong. she says to this day that she did not know of wrongdoing. what she did know is that she was dating or was engaged to one of abramoff's lobbying employees. at the time, that employee was 29 or 30 years old and was driving around in great cars. he had a $17,000 a month apartment at the ritz-carlton in washington, d.c. he owned a couple of beach houses in the caribbean. he said he had a private jet. he had a whole number of beautiful houses out on the eastern shore. she saw that he was making a ton of money, and i think she sniffed wrongdoing. 30-year-olds are not supposed
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to have that kind of money. >> what is your take? years later, michael scanlon has pled guilty but has not been sentenced. tony rudy pled guilty and has not been sentenced. abramoff is in jail and he may come out soon. depends on whether he gets out on good behavior or not. he could be there until 2012, and he could go back if he is convicted of other crimes. what is going on here with this story? >> that is a really good question. the prosecution seems to have been stalled for two or three years now. the shame is that prosecutors were going after abramoff and they got him. they were going after tom delay. they do not seem to have gotten him. mr. delay himself may have not done anything wrong. a former member of congress who went in and out of jail is now out of jail.
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all the people who have pled guilty and have prosecution or jail terms hanging over them are all these 20-year-old staffers in mr. delay's office. it seems the prosecutors were going for the big fish and they ended up getting all the small fish. a lot of these guys have families. they clearly made mistakes when they were younger, and now they are walking around with no chance of getting a job in d.c. they have pled guilty but have not yet been sentenced. they are walking around not knowing when and if they will go to jail. the big guys, the tom delays, have never been charged with anything. >> go back to the story. can you remember how your originally learned about it? >> it is a good example of how d.c., how journalism works in dc. if you are just getting your start in journalism, you are younger, making friends with
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staffers on capitol hill, they are in the same age group, single, just married, don't have kids. you see people on the weekends and at night and make friends and relationships. i am a reporter, i can help them. they are capitol hill staffers, they can help me. you learn what people are like outside the office. you have a party and invite them, and you go to their parties. i knew that emily miller had dated michael scanlon. i knew that michael scanlon had left the office and worked for abramoff. that is just something i knew about. when abramoff was first charged or when the story first broke about abramoff, i started mining that thread.
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it just seemed like an interesting relationship to help. >> did she talk about that relationship to you? >> no. they were out on the eastern shore. they have probably taken a hit on all their real-estate holdings. michael scanlon has been the big winner. >> was there a lesson in this whole abramoff story? there is a documentary and also a movie with kevin spacey coming out. >> right. the only lesson has been for staffers to watch out. a lot of the rules that were in place before are similar to rules that are in place now. the rules in place now are stricter. young staffers would be on capitol hill and sort of do what everyone else did. before there was a rule that you
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could not accept more than $50 in gifts or meals or sports tickets. people would routinely exceed that limit. that was just the culture. that is the way it was. now that these guys have been prosecuted and some are going to jail, some are walking around with guilty pleas, people know there are consequences. that has been the real lesson. >> we move to august 28, 2007. the headline was "the source of clinton's cash is an unlikely address." the address was in california. did you go there? >> i went out there. i got a tip a couple of months before that, that it seemed like there was one big donor to hillary clinton that was getting his money from some very odd places.
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at issue was a family of chinese immigrants in california in a suburb of san francisco. i went through fec records and was looking for what addresses, what houses or buildings were the biggest source of campaign cash to any candidate. >> you mentioned fec records. is that available to everyone? >> it is the agency that watches over campaign contributions. anyone can go to the website and try to look up who is donating to which candidates. >> you say the paw family in california. somebody tipped you off that this was happening.
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>> right. >> would that be somebody who was against hillary clinton? >> yes. getting all the tips you can get from someone who has an agenda. everyone has an agenda. as long as you know what their agenda is and as long as the facts are right, that is a story you can write about. you have to be very careful in getting tips and not carefully checking them out and writing stories that turn out not to be true. reporters always need to be careful. i fully vetted it. i figured out the top addresses that are giving money. one was some wealthy manhattan property owner who had given
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thousands of dollars. he was one of the richest guys in new york. another one was the owner of a professional basketball team. another one was a big real estate owner in oakland. fourth on the list was this paw family. they lived in a one story, seven bedroom, 1500 square foot house, which was listed at about $300,000 or so. they had given about $100,000 in campaign contributions. anyone who hears that knows there is something fishy going on. luckily, "the wall street journal" -- they told me to get on a plane to san francisco. i rented a car and pulled up at the house at midnight that night.
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it was kind of spooky because the fog was rolling in and i was in a neighborhood i was not sure of. i did not know exactly where i was. as soon as i saw the house, i knew that there was a problem. either someone was breaking the law or trying to pull a fast one. >> how much money had been given? >> i think it was $120,000 that this family had given. it was to several candidates, but it was at least $100,000 to hillary clinton herself over some period of time. some was going to other candidates. to make a long story short, what i found out is that this family really did not have any money. they were friends and acquaintances with this guy, norman shue, who was a big hillary fund-raiser. he was essentially funneling money through this family to hillary clinton and other
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candidates. a new campaign finance law, an individual can only give so much of their own money to a candidate. one way around that, an illegal way for me to give you money and then you give money to a candidate, and that i can double the amount of money i am giving. that is illegal, and that is what he was doing. >> the 2002 law also included prison sentences for offenders for the first time. again, this story was in 2007, but if you go back to when -- i understand the penalty came in 2001 for freddie mac.
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at the time, rahm emanuel was on that board of directors. >> that's right. >> he was appointed by bill clinton in 2000. i say that only because they do not do that like they used to. they used to have some members appointed by the company itself and some by politicians. what did you see? what is the lesson from this story? >> i think the lesson to me was that there are more and more people giving money to campaigns, to presidential campaigns and regular campaigns. the amount of money donated to politics just goes up and up and up every year. there is a lot of wrongdoing. this was one of hillary clinton's top campaign fund- raisers. hillary clinton was no unknown presidential candidate. at the time, she was the presumptive democratic nominee running against some guy named barack obama.
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she had a guy breaking the law right at the top of a campaign. mrs. clinton's fund-raisers and staff said they did not know that this fund raiser was breaking the law, and i agree with them. the point is, someone can flout the campaign finance laws right up in one of the most important campaigns and most important candidates in recent history. it is probably happening all the time. >> this was from april 1, 2009. the headline is "u.s. news: lawmakers have long rewarded their aides with bonuses." what is legistorm? >> it was started by a man who left and founded his own web site.
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a lot of people in d.c. have an interest in showing a greater spotlight on campaign finances. jeff freely is one of them. his website makes it easy for people to figure out and track the money within congress. not what congress is appropriating money for, but literally how much a committee is spending on running the committee, how much a congressional office spends on flowers, transportation, on the tvs that that buy and on staff salaries. >> what is the source from him for that? >> the house and senate at the time, i think it was every three months, had to publish information in these thick binders. probably one quarter's worth of information was probably six or seven phone books' worth of information.
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>> this company is under stormy media which goes and gets information that is free to them and then they charge for it and publish it. >> when you complain to congress about the lack of public information, a lot of times they say the information is there. you just need to go to this office, sit in this room, and go through these binders. what jack does is take that information and put it on the web. >> in this story that you wrote in 2009, house members -- what got your attention on this? >> i think it's perfectly acceptable for lawmakers to give bonuses to staffers on the hill. reporters and people on the hill knew that staffers give bonuses at the end of the year. what made this a story is this was right at the time when lawmakers were criticizing all the big auto companies for
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giving bonuses to their staffers. they were saying -- obviously those wall street bonuses were in the millions. it struck me as a little disingenuous when a member of congress blames a ceo for flying around in a corporate jet and spending a lot of money and rewarding staff with bonuses while they were doing the same thing. the dollar amounts are significantly smaller, but it seemed like a piece of information that we should put out. >> here is a paragraph of your story that talks about the rationale from congress's standpoint.
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let me go back to that statement that mr. daly made that the reason they work on capitol hill is because they believe in public service. what is your take on that? what do you think after watching it all these years? >> for the most part, i agree. i think there are some people, just like in any workplace, who game the system. i think 99% of people who work on capitol hill and 99% of lawmakers are good people, trying to do the right thing. they disagree on how to accomplish the right thing. i think most people are trying to help the country. >> let me ask about this paragraph in the end of your story.
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>> the udall example was?1x.ñ te most extreme example we had in the story. there were people working the entire year and then getting a couple of thousand dollars. the udall gift seemed to be pushing the line a little bit more. >> the next story, may 6, 2009. the headline on this is "u.s. news: some pacs run after politicians drop out."
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you start out by telling the story about the late rep paul gilmore. explain. >> this is a fascinating area. the stories i like writing about most are things that are legal but clearly should not be. this is entirely legal. members of congress who have leadership pacs, a special political kitty that members of congress have, and how those lawmakers spend the money out of that fund. in these leadership pacs, a lawmaker can spend money however they want. you literally are allowed to pay your mortgage out of your leadership pac. what we found out is after members of congress retire, if they still have money in the
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leadership pacs, they carry them on as sort of a personal bank account as they move forward. we had a guy named paul gilmore, republican from ohio, who died in september of that year. when he died, there was about $30,000 left in his leadership pac. after mr. gilmore was not around, receipts showed that the pac kept spending money. no one ever explained exactly who was spending that money. none of the expenses were huge, but it was expenses you typically see of a 20-year-old or a 30-year-old staffer on capitol hill. all the places on capitol hill where staffers go. one of his staffers had taken the credit card and used it as a personal bank account.
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>> at the end of the article, you quote a fellow by the name of ryan walker. >> my reaction is to let the readers decide what they think about that. >> there is more in this story about individual people. one is a fellow named jack quinn. he spent $2,000 at a flower shop in new york in the past two years. it was politically related, he said in an interview. i did not go out and buy my wife a dozen roses on her birthday. >> was he a congressman? >> he was a year or two out of congress. he was working at the university in buffalo, and he
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said the flowers were for political supporters. if he ever had a political supporter who passed away or had someone in the family pass away, he would go out and buy them flowers for the funeral. >> let's go back and try to get to the bottom of this. you are a congressperson, you get a pac, and there is a limit to that. there is a limit to how much money you can accept. what is that limit on a yearly basis? >> it changes every year. at the time it was $4,600 for your personal account. separately, it is $5,000 a year or $10,000 for the entire election cycle in your leadership pac. >> if i am a person in congress, i could say to xyz corporation or xyz individual, give me money here, but give me more money over here.
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i can take all of that money with me when i leave. how many of them end up spending it when they become lobbyists on other members of congress? >> that is the question of the day. we have seen a bunch of people do that, maybe a few dozen. i think that is ok, that was the purpose of it. if you are a member of congress and you leave congress with $10,000 in your pac, and you work in the private sector, if you are taking that money and donating it back to a member of congress, that is the intended purpose. >> but what about the person that contributed to you when you were a member of congress, and now you are giving it to someone i do not even like?
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>> did you ask mr. oxley about this? >> i spoke with him or an aide of his. when mr. barclay was a member of congress, he had an annual fund-raising event in vail. people would pay $5,000 or $10,000 for the privilege. when he retired, he figured he would still have that ski trip. he thought it was a lot of fun and he could raise money for his pac. members of congress still like having this political kitty when they leave congress. he was still trying to raise money for it so he could give money back to candidates or do whatever he wanted with it. the $20,000 expenditure in vail was a fund-raiser to raise money for his pac. >> how closely can they track what they spend pac money on?
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>> part of the problem with disclosure on capitol hill is that sometimes you disclose so much information, it is too much information to figure out. anyone can go to the website and look up someone's pac and other reports to see how money is spent. it is a lot of information. another quick way of doing it is to set up responsive politics, which is they are a non-partisan organization. >> she is a former prosecutor.
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she is left of center. she is a democrat, but i think she is honest in criticizing democrats a lot. there are a lot of people who say they are non-partisan in organizations who are actually slanted to the right or left. in washington, you can get anyone to say anything. when you are trying to find a source, someone to quote, a good government watchdog group who really is non-partisan. even though she is to the left of center, she has always been professionally right down the middle. when you are criticizing something the democrats do, you want to get someone who would be less likely to want to criticize them. >> july 2, 2009. "congress travel tab swells,
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rising tenfold from italy to the galapagos." is that you doing the analysis? >> at the time, i had a good friend who is now at the "washington post." he is one of those guys who can get into some data, set up computer programs, and somehow spit out numbers that i would not have any idea how to come up with. >> is that the one email that shows the algorithm? >> that was part of the computer program that he used to put together this chart. >> but the average person could not figure that out. >> i have no idea what that chart means. >> where did he go after the figures for this travel story?
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where did he find the figures? >> congress is required to disclose within 30 days or sometimes 90 days a very basic set of information about where they traveled. they are required to put that in the congressional record. the congressional record is a phone book-sized record of everything that happened in congress the day before. every few days, there will be a single page put into that about the trips that happened in the previous period. what tim had to do was go through millions of pages of documents to find all the travel records and to pull them out and put them into a spreadsheet. you and i would have started flipping through the pages one at a time and we would still be doing it. tim was able to set up some sort of computer program on his own with that algorithm i showed you, that could do that automatically.
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it would go through websites and pull out just travel forms. >> in mid june, senator daniel inouye from hawaii led a group of senators and their spouses on a trip to france.
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>> that was an eight-day trip with spouses, spending thousands on hotels and meals. >> this story is about the huge increase in travel that members of congress are doing overseas. the world is changing. members of congress are involved more and more in international politics. economies are more and more in alliance. our stock market is crumbling partly because of the problems in greece. it is important for members of congress to go overseas and meet with lawmakers over there. what we found was that on a lot of these trips, they are bogus. you say you are going on some good government trip, but then you bring your spouse. you are partying and staying in expensive hotels, flying on government planes. they are pretty fancy trips. i have gone on a whole bunch of work trips myself, and have
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never brought my wife. as soon as i am going on a trip where i am bringing my wife, i am probably not working that hard. >> in october, representative cramer spent two weeks in europe on business. he spent $5,700 on hotels. how can you do that? >> that is entirely legal. there is a good reason for members of congress to travel, but if you are retiring or have retired or lost reelection, there is just no reason the taxpayers should be paying for you to travel. >> you seem to find a lot of that. >> it happens all the time. >> do you call them and ask them about it, and how often when you call somebody are they not
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available? how often would you say? >> 50% of the time. the advantage "the wall street journal" had is that i can wait people out. we started calling people for the stories in may. the most recent story that came out on this was in march 2010. someone can not be available for a while, but if we are calling every week for months, we will eventually get people. if we really need to talk to someone, we can just go up to capitol hill and track them down. >> one of the sources you use, the clerks' site in the house of representatives. how does that work, and can the average person go in? >> that is a good site for the average person. the senate doesn't have a similar version.
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the clerks' site in the house puts up on a semi-regular basis, they will put up where the charts are. they are not searchable. you can go through the filings and basically put together -- and see what the reports look like. >> to recap the things that are available, you talked about the federal election commission site, which is public information. that is all the expenditures on the campaign. i went in there this morning and i cannot find anything on the current election. i typed in the two people running against each other in my home state of indiana, and there was nothing there. >> well, there is a problem. financial forms need to be filed in electronic form and they go right up on the fec's
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website. senators file their filings in paper form. you get these 1,000-page documents that the senators drop off to an office in the senate. they make a copy and bring them to the fec. they cannot put them on the website until they scan every single page on to the website. >> we are in the middle of the year. go through the process. if somebody spends $1 in the indiana senate race, when is the first time i can find that on the website? >> it should be every quarter after they announce that they are running. the most recent forms covered january, february, and march. those forms came out in mid april. >> the last quarter when you are running, you do not see that until the campaign is over? >> right.
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>> we talked about this earlier, the citizens for responsibility and ethics, legistorm -- do you have to pay for that information? >> i don't think so. i think that is free. that is congress's internal spending, committee expenditures, tvs, flowers. got to and look for the clerks' page. >> we talked about the "wall street journal" analysis that your researcher helped you on. the other thing is the freedom of information act that you cite periodically. how does that work? >> that is a good question. a lot of the information in the travel stories was gotten through the freedom of information act, which allows reporters or any member of the public to file a request for
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internal documents from government agencies. congress has been exempted from this law, so you cannot ask congress for internal documents. you can ask other government agencies. for our travel stories, we went to members of congress and said we saw that you went on this trip, give us some information about it. they would say no, basically. we then send these freedom of information act requests to agencies, or to the military. the military flies the members of congress, so they would have the records. about six months later, we started getting those documents. this information takes a long, long time to get, but we can wait people out at "the journal." the state department coordinates with foreign
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embassies and the like. just last week, i got a letter from them saying that they had received our freedom of information act request that we wrote to them in june, and that they have put it in the queue. they have deemed it to be a complicated request, and they will get back to us shortly. 11 months later, they said they had gotten our letter and would get back to us at some point. >> what if a member of congress or member of the senate wants to bury this information or make it difficult, or the institutions want to make it difficult, they can and do? >> they do. >> did you ever ask anybody why they make it so difficult to get this information? >> i don't ask them, but it became clear that there is a lot of information that they do not want out there.
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i can say that i understand why a member of congress would want to go overseas to go to a conference or go meet with a foreign leader or meet with troops. what if you are a hometown newspaper? what if you have 12% unemployment, schools that need new supplies and new books? hospitals have problems, and you are in italy. that is pretty damning for any congressman running for reelection. they do not want this information out there, so they make it very difficult to find. >> december 16, 2009. this is a story, the headline is " congress travels more, five days in scotland." it says there is one for the "control room."
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what does that mean? >> through a source, i found out about an upcoming trip, jumped on a plane, and went to this conference. i got in the same hotel as these members of congress and found out they are all staying on the top floor. everyone has their nice room at one of the nicest hotels there. in the middle of it, they had the hotel conference room, and they took a couple of adjoining hotel suites and made it into a kind of bar and relaxation room. so they had a couple of computers there, so they could email and keep in touch with their offices here. they had a bar, they had a bunch of newspapers, tvs.
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they made their own little lounge. they say that was for security reasons. >> did you get in that room? >> no. >> but if you read your article, you get a sense that you are everywhere. >> i had some good sources on it. >> who paid for the bar in the room? >> we did. it is all taxpayer funded trips. >> you said there were 12 legislators on the trip. do you know some of the names? this is the john tanner group? he is a democrat from tennessee. >> he is a good guy. he was the head of that nato assembly group. >> what makes him a good guy? >> i said that 99% of congress are good people. i think he is trying to do the
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right thing. he was part of this group of european parliamentarians and u.s. legislators who every six months or every quarter would meet up here in the u.s. or abroad. it is not part of nato. >> can you explain that? >> it is difficult. it is a legitimate organization. the idea is to bring legislators from nato countries together and talk about issues that affect nato countries. at this one, they are talking about afghanistan and nuclear proliferation. >> you quote david scott as saying "having a spouse travel helps keep the family together." what is your reaction to that? >> a lot of people on capitol hill, when i ask them about traveling, said that if members
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of congress are from out of state, they travel to d.c. almost every week, they are leaving behind the families and kids. they get the easter break, the spring break, the summer break, july 4, and that is the time that members of congress have the only opportunity to go travel on these official work trips. if they could not bring their spouse, they would not be able to go. they have not been able to spend that much time with their spouse. they say in order to be able to go on these trips, we need to be able to bring our spouse. that is the argument. you can decide if you think that is legitimate or not. >> you say it was the sheraton grand hotel and spa in edinburg and the rate was at least $300 a night. >> i had to pay more. they had the government rate. >> two went to a liquor store.
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>> you found that when they are given money when they travel overseas, they are supposed to give the money that is left back, and they often never do. >> there are a lot of elements of commercial travel that is hard to say if it was right or wrong. it is on the border, whether members of congress should have this whole reception area to themselves, whether they should bring their spouses. one thing we found that was just plain wrong is that when members of congress travel overseas, they are given a per
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diem, a decent amount of cash to cover their daily expenses. a lot of companies have a per diem fund for employees who travel. with members of congress, they do not have to give it back. they do not have to keep receipts and they do not have to give any money back. they are often going to meals and receptions that are paid for by other people, so in edinburg, i think you get about $250 a day, not including your hotel room. it is to cover meals and transportation. >> did that include the money that the military liaisons were walking around with in their pocket? >> no. >> so they spend all kinds of money when they are escorting that no one tracks. >> on this particular trip that i was following, they were taking a bus every day that was
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paid for probably by the military or by the u.s. embassy over there. they were going to this conference where they were eating at the conference. they went to several receptions at night, hosted by the british government and scottish government. so they were not going to meals on their own, which means they are piling up every day, another $200 or $250. at the end of that trip, 11 days, no one came in and said, "now give us back the money you did not spend." >> you mentioned they do not have to keep receipts and all that. why is it that every other american, through the irs, is required to keep receipts when they are doing business? did you ever ask about that? >> we have not gotten there doing these stories. there is a specific irs implication to this. if you are getting money from a problem.
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>> did they know you were there in the hotel? >> no. >> did they know who you were? >> no. >> did you talk to any of them while you were there at the conference? >> no. i kept my head down. i came with a couple of disguises. i wore hats and tried to grow a beard. before going on this trip, i met with a couple of former embassy security people overseas, people who gave me some counter surveillance techniques, how to stay out of sight. >> after the 12 legislators got back -- i will read it. they are back after this trip.
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how did you get that? >> i was still in scotland at that point. the last thing i did on that trip was go to the airport and see them take off in their private u.s. military plane. my colleague, tim farnham, was waiting for them when they arrived. he stood out in front of the rayburn house office building when everyone pulled up, and they were unpacking their bags. they were together for seven or 10 days, staying in the same hotel suite, and they certainly got to know each other better. tim just happened to be there and got a couple of photographs as they arrived. >> you write about trips to jamaica, trips to the galapagos islands.
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for some reason they all go to the galapagos islands. not all, but some do. australia, the great barrier reef. you don't talk much about those trips. how often did you find them going to afghanistan and iraq and then going off for five days to italy? >> a lot of times people swing through italy when going to afghanistan and iraq. it is either a convenient excuse or a good excuse, and the one trip you mentioned that nancy pelosi went on. she spent seven days in italy a couple of years ago. that was all based around a one day trip to afghanistan. it is easy to come back and say "i just went and visited the troops," and people think that is a really good thing. you don't mention, "by the way, i also spent seven days in italy." >> is there any place that people can read all of your stories? >>
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>> do you have to pay? >> some of the stories are behind the pay wall and some may not be. "the journal" is in the process of changing the way they charge people for stories online. eventually, everything will be behind the pay wall. >> how many people at "the journal" do what you are doing? >> there were four. one passed away, and two decided it was time to move on. r[[i grew up in washington, d.. that has many advantages. you are exposed to d.c. and how it works, and you also have connections and relationships
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through your family and friends and parents. my parents worked for the government. my dad worked for the federal communications commission, and my mom was a computer person who did government contracting somewhere in a complicated way that i still do not understand. >> where did you go to college? >> northwestern university in chicago. i always knew i wanted to be a reporter and that was a good way to get a good background. then i came back to d.c. and dove in. i was an economics major. for my fortunate background, i did a volunteer position at the washington bureau of "the wall street journal" when i was in high school in 1992. back then, a bunch of senior reporters said do not major in journalism.
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they said if you want to cover medicine, go to medical school. if you want to cover science, be a biology major. if you wwnt to cover washington, major in economics or history or political science. their advice was not to major in journalism. i majored in economics and graduated in 1996. >> you worked for "communications daily" and "congress daily." when did you go to work for "the wall street journal"? >> 2005. i tried to write about the intersection to business and politics, what companies want in washington and how they get it.
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most reporters in washington cover capitol hill and politics, and what lawmakers do, without looking at the influence they are receiving from business. my job is to cover that business influence. those who read "the wall street journal," a business newspaper, are attracted to that. >> i am just going to read this.
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this is inside government, using taxpayer money to try to influence members to continue spending taxpayer dollars on the military institutions. >> i am glad you picked up on that. it is one of those areas i wish we would be able to pursue further. maybe we will down the road. if members of congress want to travel, it is something they say their spouses like, it is good for their family lives. ,mit is fun and helps them bece better lawmakers. but the way they travel is that the air force and military and the state department bend over backwards to treat these guys like royalty. they fly in these air force planes. these are not fighter jets in the hull of some big transport plane. they are flying on all business class 737's and 757's. really fancy planes.
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their bags are carried for them. limos pick them up and drop them off. they have security everywhere they go. for the longest time, we thought, why is the military doing this? then we found these documents where in this internal air force or navy form, the navy people have to justify why they are helping these members of congress. for each trip, it would say the objective of the trip. on this form, it said that the objective is to establish a relationship with senator dodd and get him to vote for our lobbying priority. >> brody mullins of "the wall street journal." thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> for a dvd copy of this program, call 1-877-662-7726.
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