ETHICS ISSUE? Five House Democrats Took $60K Trip To Africa To See Beyonce Concert!


In what is being called a “mockery of the House ethics rules”, five house Democrats (why is it always the Democrats?) are under scrutiny for taking a $60,000 paid-for trip to South Africa to see Beyonce perform.

Awareness of the trip came from a Tweet from Al Sharpton.

Take a look:
Fox News breaks down the issue with the trip:

Five members of the Congressional Black Caucus took a $60,000 trip to see Beyoncé and other stars perform in concert in South Africa late last year, according to congressional disclosure records.

The lawmakers were U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York, Barbara Lee of California, Bobby Rush of Illinois, Terri Sewell of Alabama and Hank Johnson of Georgia, according to the data.

They attended the “Global Citizen Mandela 100” concert from Dec. 1-3 to celebrate the centenary birth of the late Nelson Mandela and raise awareness of global poverty. In addition to Beyoncé, other musical acts included her husband Jay Z, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams and Chris Martin.

The lawmakers appeared in a photo that the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also attended the event, posted on his Twitter page.

The trip was paid for by Global Citizen, a nonprofit that lobbies for anti-poverty programs around the world, the Washington Examiner reported. The group said the presence of members of Congress at the concert would “showcase America’s ongoing commitment [to] health equality and global human rights.”

Other celebrities at the event included Oprah Winfrey and “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.

“In the spirit of Nelson Mandela, we pledge to keep working with our colleagues in Congress, across the country and across the aisle, to make sure that every child in Africa and at home has the opportunity to thrive and grow in a safe and prosperous world,” Meeks said, according to the Examiner.

“As a Sr. member of the Foreign Affairs Comm[ittee] who understands the importance of both multilateral & bilateral relations on trade & foreign policy, developing that relationship is crucial,” Meeks said when asked how the trip was related to his congressional duties.

The National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, called the trip a “mockery.”

"These members of Congress that were given an all-expense paid vacation to party with Oprah, Jay Z, and Beyoncé in South Africa are claiming with a straight face this was needed to help poor children around the world live better lives," Tom Anderson, president of the NLPC's Government Integrity Project, told Examiner. "This was in fact, a mockery of House ethics rules on gifts and travel, the truly poor, and all Americans that expect members of Congress to live not only by the letter of the law but by the spirit and intentions of the rules of the House of Representatives."

"These members of Congress that were given an all-expense paid vacation to party with Oprah, Jay Z, and Beyoncé in South Africa are claiming with a straight face this was needed to help poor children around the world live better lives."

— Tom Anderson, president, National Legal and Policy Center's Government Integrity Project
A representative for Sewell said her travel "was pre-approved by the House Ethics Committee and was not paid for at taxpayer expense" and that "Rep. Sewell and several other members attended the Global Citizen Mandela 100 Festival, a platform for world leaders to speak out against racial injustice and inequity, and voice their support for international assistance for underprivileged populations."

Call me old fashioned, but I think spending the $60,000 directly on helping underprivileged populations probably would have done a lot more good than sending 5 privileged Democrats on a trip!

But that's just me.

Silly, I know.

Here's more from the Washington Examiner:

Five members of the Congressional Black Caucus took an official three-day trip to South Africa to be feted as VIPs at a Beyonce and Jay Z concert, according to congressional disclosure records.

The stated purpose of the $60,000 trip in December was to attend the “Global Citizen Mandela 100” concert, the stated purpose of which was to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Nelson Mandela and raise awareness of global poverty. The extravaganza was headlined by Beyonce, Jay Z, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, and Chris Martin.

Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks, Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, Terri Sewell, and Hank Johnson attended the event with VIP backstage passes. Also at the concert was Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS coordinator and special representative for Global Health Diplomacy.

According to disclosure forms, the trip was paid for by the nonprofit group Global Citizen, an organization that lobbies governments to fund anti-poverty programs. The event was co-sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, Coca Cola Africa, CISCO, NedBank, Vodacom, HP, and Microsoft.

The lawmakers, all members of the Congressional Black Caucus, flew business class to Johannesburg, South Africa, for the concert and stayed in a four-star hotel from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3, according to the disclosure records.

The National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the all-expenses trip made a "mockery" of House ethics rules that prohibit members of congress from accepting paid trips that are not directly related to their official duties or that "create the appearance that the [individual] is using public office for private gain."

"These members of Congress that were given an all-expense paid vacation to party with Oprah, Jay Z, and Beyonce in South Africa are claiming with a straight face this was needed to help poor children around the world live better lives," said Tom Anderson, president of the NLPC's Government Integrity Project.

"This was in fact, a mockery of House ethics rules on gifts and travel, the truly poor, and all Americans that expect members of Congress to live not only by the letter of the law but by the spirit and intentions of the rules of the House of Representatives."

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