Nice timing, idiots.
The House Democratic Caucus spent more than $500,000 in taxpayer money over the past five years for its annual retreats at resorts in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
On Thursday, Democrats will head to the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in historic Williamsburg, Va., for the three-day planning powwow. The resort boasts multiple championship golf courses, a full-service spa and six restaurants.
Individual lawmakers pay for most of the expenses related to retreat lodging through their campaign committees, but the Democratic Caucus subsidizes some of the costs for what aides consider “official business” — to the tune of nearly $100,000 each year, according to a Democratic aide involved in retreat planning.
For instance, the caucus picks up the hefty transportation tab, as well as the thousands of dollars in expenses each year for guest speakers, food and entertainment, according to financial disbursement records.
Democratic leadership sources were reluctant to talk about any aspect of the trip, but they defended it as an important planning session for the entire country.
“This retreat is strategic planning for the country,” said Democratic Caucus spokeswoman Emily Barocas. “The president, vice president and three Cabinet secretaries will be meeting with the caucus to plan the direction we are taking the country in.”
The topic is particularly sensitive this year after several Democratic lawmakers slammed American International Group (AIG) executives for spending more than $440,000 at a company retreat in Monarch Beach, Calif., just days after the federal government bailed the company out with $85 billion in taxpayer funds.
Yes, several Democratic lawmakers did slam AIG rather brutally, last October. For instance:
“They’re getting their pedicures and their manicures and the American people are paying for that,” said an indignant Cong. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) at the time.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) held a hearing where he waved around a photograph of the resort, and bitterly complained about the expensive rooms:
“Less than a week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation,” Waxman said. “We will ask whether any of this makes sense. “
Montana Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat had huffed:
But Democrats, residing at the luxury resort in Williamsburg, this weekend on the taxpayers’ expense, during a recession, are working for us, you see:
“We’re very mindful” of perceptions, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson told reporters Thursday camped outside of the sprawling Kingsmill Resort & Spa in Williamsburg, Va., where House Democrats were on their annual three-day retreat, which by some estimates has cost $100,000 in the past. “It’s serious and it’s from morning till night. We’ve been dwelling, rightfully, on the economy,” said Larson, D-Conn.
In case you’re wondering, yes, Republicans go on an annual retreat, as well….but not on the public dime:
Republicans spend no public money on their retreat, which occurred last month at the historic Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va., spokesman Matt Lloyd said.
Lawmakers pay for their own transportation and room costs, roughly $190 per night, including food, according to one Republican who attended but spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the trip were not made public.
But Republicans allow special guests to join them: lobbyists who are part of the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit organization that arranges events for both political parties. They pay $25,000 to join the institute, which allows them to attend the first night’s dinner at the Republican retreat as well as other events throughout the year.
Hat tip: Gateway Pundit