McInnis’ travel under scrutiny |

McInnis’ travel under scrutiny

DENVER – A watchdog report says retiring Republican Rep. Scott McInnis has taken 14 trips paid for by private groups since 2000, more than any other member of the Colorado delegation and 85th among all members of Congress.McInnis’ trips cost a total of $49,853, according to the report by American Public Media and a team of graduate journalism students from Northwestern University.GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo took five such trips costing $27,381 and Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette took seven costing $23,832, the report said. Other Colorado lawmakers reported three or fewer sponsored trips each since 2000.Congressional rules allow such trips but require lawmakers to report the sponsors and what expenses they paid.Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said many trips paid for by corporations are lobbying excursions labeled as fact-finding.”They’re going to argue that part of lobbying is educational. There’s some truth to that. Part of what lobbying does is educate the member about that association’s position,” he said.McInnis, a Republican, and his wife Lori took six trips paid for by the Association of American Railroads or railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe.McInnis spokesman Blair Jones said McInnis keeps tabs on the industry because his district is heavily dependent on coal trains and has many railroad employees.McInnis used the contacts he made on the trips to help broker a deal allowing Pueblo to use the site of a former railroad freight station for a heritage center and museum, Jones said. McInnis also took trips sponsored by the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

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