The day President Donald Trump proposed dramatic cuts to government programs, 10 of Congress’ most passionate, relentless budget-cutters were gathering to talk about ways to promote government austerity. At The Breakers, the ultra-plush Palm Beach, Florida, resort.And:
The Republican congressmen stayed in hotel rooms marked down to $495 from the customary $810 nightly rate. Several brought along their spouses. They participated in panel discussions for several hours, but many stayed through the weekend at the oceanfront resort that promises “unapologetic luxury, seaside glamour and world-class service.”
Picking up the tab for the congressmen’s travel, lodging and food was the conservative Club for Growth, which has been unsparing in pushing for a leaner government. The day the club’s three-day annual winter economic conference began in March, club president David McIntosh praised the White House’s budget proposal for beginning “the much-needed work of making major cuts in agencies like the EPA, and ending the waste of taxpayer dollars that are being poured into things like federally-funded TV and radio.
Eight House members and two senators – all Republican – filed travel disclosure forms with the House and Senate for the trip, registering the cost between $1,995 and $3,256. They included Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, along with House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Rod Blum of Iowa, Justin Amash of Michigan, John Ratcliffe of Texas, and Andy Biggs and David Schweikert of Arizona.So Senator Pat Toomey attended a three day long event held at an "ultra-plush" Palm Beach Florida resort - with Pat's former organization, the Club for Growth picking up the tab for his travel, lodging and food expenses.
The Breakers, by the way, is one fancy schmancy place.
But back to that meeting, when did this happen and for how much?
According to this form from Legistorm (sub. req), it was March 17-19 and the expenses (for Pat and his wife) totaled about $2,627.
I have to point out, though, something that Clark includes in her reporting:
The trips were legal, involved no taxpayer dollars and were cleared, in the case of the House, by its Ethics Committee. Still, such retreats have long drawn the ire of government watchdog groups, which point to them as examples of well-connected groups that look to sway politicians with perks.[Emphasis added.]It's all about access - and in the case of the Club and our Senator, we're talking a lot of access. From McClatchy:
Most of the attendees agreed with the Club for Growth’s take on government spending. Toomey, who received $400,000 in campaign contributions from the group in 2016, lauded Trump for looking to boost military spending and said that “after years of overspending” he was encouraged that Trump was proposing cuts to non-defense spending. [Emphasis added.]There is an interesting detail to be dug out of the disclosure form:
Take a look in the "Meal Expenses" column. Since it's a good faith estimate from Toomey we'll give him the benefit of the doubt about the amount - $320 each for two evening meals.
But doesn't that mean that (if we average out the amounts) each had a $160 meal on each night that weekend? All paid for by the Club for Growth? Who eats a dinner that cost $160?
So let me ask my friends in the "Tuesdays with Toomey" (and everyone else) a question or two: What were YOU doing that weekend? What were you YOU doing the weekend Pat Toomey, your Senator, was giving this 45 minute speech?
And then had an otherwise "Club for Growth" weekend, at a resort in Palm Beach Florida - with his travel, food and lodging all paid for by Club for Growth? While YOU were calling his office looking to talk to him about the issues that most concern you about Pennsylvania , Pat Toomey was eating $160 meals that someone else paid for at a resort in Palm Beach Florida.
One final question for every Pennsylvanian reading this: Who does Pat Toomey really represent in the US Senate?