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County ethics rule derails lawmakers' trips to israel
Finally, someone in government has come to their senses!
The zionist 'House' is crumbling!
Pardon my glee - but, zionist lawmakers will just have to come up with another way to grovel to AIPAC!
Montgomery County lawmakers, along with dozens of officials from around the region, for years have taken trips to Israel, with most expenses paid by local Jewish organizations.
BUT, NO MORE . . .
[T]he trips -- now worth about $4,000 -- appear to violate the county's ethics law, according to an ethics commission ruling.
The as-yet unpublished ruling, described in an e-mail made available to The Washington Post, helped scuttle the plans of several Montgomery officials who had hoped to fly Sunday to Israel for a nine-day trip. Until County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) sought a formal opinion in June, no one had asked the ethics panel for its view.
The trips have been organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, which lobbies and does charitable work in the region. The council canceled the trip this week after several officials dropped out, either because of the panel ruling or for other reasons, the trip's organizer said.
[insert unimaginable glee on my part]
Other Montgomery officials who had planned to go were Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) and Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) also had signed on but dropped out a few weeks ago, before the ethics panel ruled.
Navarro was told by the school system's attorney that she could go because the community relations council does not have business ties to the schools, according to school system spokesman Brian Edwards. A few hours before the trip was canceled, she decided not to go, citing a family commitment.
After learning of the ethics panel's ruling, Trachtenberg offered to pay her way and Berliner decided not to go.
Trip organizer Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said he was "stunned" by the ethics ruling. His organization has run 20 trips for local leaders in the past 25 years, he said.
"There is certain foreign travel that is very beneficial for elected officials. Do we really want to restrict our officials to say you can't go outside of the United States to gather information?" Halber said.
Montgomery has one of the region's largest Jewish communities and also is home to more than a dozen Israeli businesses.
Officials who accept the trips are asked to pay $500 to $1,000 to defray expenses. The trips usually are reported on elected officials' annual financial disclosure forms.
Many state and local officials have taken the trips in recent years . . .
For the record, their names are:
Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Albert R. Wynn, both Maryland Democrats; James P. Moran Jr., a Northern Virginia Democrat, and Thomas M. Davis III, a Northern Virginia Republican. Other local travelers have included former Montgomery executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and members of his staff; County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) during his time on the County Council; and several members of Montgomery's council.
Critics of privately financed foreign travel for public officials say it allows advocacy groups to win over the officials by wining and dining them.
They forgot to mention bribing and blackmailing.
Many who have taken the trip to Israel describe it as a valuable experience that kept them on the move for more than 12 hours a day as they met with Israelis and Palestinians and viewed the inner workings of other governments and businesses. "It was not a vacation. It was hard work," said council member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), who went a few years ago.
Kissing AIPAC ass is not easy!
"There was no lobbying on local stuff."
Strictly lobbying to mangle foreign policy, increase the amount of taxes we fork over to israel, and expend the lives of our soldiers on israel's wars - American interests be damned.
'Duh, what's unethical about that?'
The details of the ethics panel's decision will not be published for a few more days, but the outlines were described in an e-mail from Executive Director Barbara McNally to Trachtenberg.
The community relations council had obtained a commitment from a private foundation to reimburse it for the Montgomery delegation's expenses. But the ethics panel was unconvinced.
"If the gift were being offered directly to you by a private foundation that is not a lobbyist, it might be permissible. However, the routing of monies through a lobbyist organization to provide travel services makes the gift unacceptable," McNally's e-mail said.
The ethics panel's decision appeared to catch local officials by surprise.
They're in for a lot more of those, if we can help it!
Some said they had checked with their staffs and had been told that many county lawmakers had taken the trips.
"It was not the first year it was being done," said County Council President Marilyn Praisner (D-East County), who took the trip 14 years ago. "It was a pattern that had been established."
It's not clear what effect, if any, the ethics commission's ruling will have beyond Montgomery. The county's law is patterned after state law, and many state officials have taken the trips.
Montgomery ethics commission Chairman Richard N. Reback, a federal government lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment.
A little too hot to handle.
Despite the ethics ruling, Leggett is planning a trip to Israel in October as part of a Maryland trade mission that Halber's organization is helping to arrange. Leggett's office is looking for other ways to pay for the trip, said Leggett's spokesman, Patrick Lacefield.
Let him go to israel as often as his corrupt little zionist heart desires.
In fact, let him stay there!
But, not while he purports to represent Americans.
This my friends is a resounding victory for American democracy!
My advice to zionists - quit while you're ahead.