August 25, 2012

Question No One (Except Politico) Is Asking: ‘Who Paid the ($340-$500) GOP Bar Tab in Galilee?’

In an apparent attempt to set the record for the most words expended on a multi-part non-story, Politico’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan have supplemented their useless, 1,400-word August 19 item (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) about how a one Republican congressman swam naked in Israel’s Sea of Galilee with a 1,000-worder which asks a question no one cares about, and no one else is asking: “Who paid the GOP bar tab in Galilee?”

The bottom line on the first story was that the FBI investigated the trip by a Republican congressional delegation to see “whether any inappropriate behavior occurred” but has made no “formal allegations of wrongdoing.” In other words, there was no reason to publish the story. Excerpts from the second story, for those who can stay awake (I’m having trouble with that), follow the jump (bolds are mine):

A late night in Israel that had members of Congress diving into the Sea of Galilee — one naked, others partially clothed — began with confusion about who would cover the bar tab for House Republicans, spouses and aides.

And it ended back in the United States, where the FBI questioned staff on the trip about the dinner, exactly who jumped into the water and whether anything inappropriate had happened as Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) removed his clothes, according to sources with direct knowledge of agents’ line of questioning.

The trip has gotten national attention since a POLITICO story unveiled the FBI’s involvement [1], Yoder’s nudity and Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) rebuke of lawmakers who had lost “focus” of the trip.

… After several hours of drinking, Rob Bassin, AIPAC’s national political director, paid the tab for the entire evening, which included several hundred dollars for drinks, in addition to the earlier meal. The GOP group racked up a tab of $340 to $500 [2] on booze, ranging from vodka to wine, sources familiar with the trip said.

Steve Stombres, Cantor’s chief of staff, objected, concerned about ethics rules that prohibited the organization from paying for anything more than dinner. Stombres’s concern was so sharp that he spent the next few days collecting money from lawmakers to pay back AIEF.

Neither Bassin nor Stombres would comment for the record.

House ethics rules allow “reasonable expenses” for food and lodging but do not cover “entertainment or recreational activities,” such as late-night drinks.

“Necessary expenses include reasonable expenses for transportation, food, and lodging, but do not include expenditures for entertainment or recreational activities,” the House Ethics Manual states.

The political fallout following the revelation of a lawmaker going skinny-dipping has been sharp [3], turning what was a routine Israel trip into fodder for tabloid headlines and comedians.

Notes:

[1] and [3] — A Google News search on “Yoder Israel” (not in quotes, sorted by date, without duplicates) return 273 items — barely a blip on the radar.

[2] – The first Politico report says that “More than 60 people took part” in the trip to Israel, that “More than 20 people took part in the late-night dip in the sea,” that “30 lawmakers” were rebuked by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor the next morning,” and that several are on record saying they didn’t go swimming.

Assuming perhaps 40 people were there that night, the bar tab amounts to $8.50 – $12.50 per person — maybe two drinks each. This year’s anticipated federal deficit of $1.2 trillion means that the deficit is increasing throughout the year by an average of $2.3 million per minute, or about $38,000 per second. The bar tab, if the taxpayers even paid it (it appears that they didn’t), represents about one one-hundreth of a second of the fiscal 2012 deficit (and about .004 seconds the $3.6 trillion in annual spending).

As to the House rules on food and drink … zzzz … zzzz … zzzz ……

… Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve found it impossible to stay interested this colossal, disgraceful waste of journalistic time and resources. So I’m going to stop giving it attention, as it really deserves none.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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1 Comment

  1. My reaction to the story was also “so what?” John Quincy Adams used to go skinny dipping in the Potomac back in the day.

    Comment by zf — August 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

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