Speed Reads

Off the record

Lobbyists can now quietly bankroll lawmakers' fancy trips

Members of Congress no longer need to reveal on their financial disclosure forms who picks up the tab for their all-expenses-paid trips, according to National Journal. What's more, the disclosure requirement change was made in relative secrecy, with no formal announcement.

The move, made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee, reverses more than three decades of precedent. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on the yearly financial form dating back its creation in the late 1970s, after the Watergate scandal. National Journal uncovered the deleted disclosure requirement when analyzing the most recent batch of yearly filings. [National Journal]

Lawmakers must still notify the House's Office of the Clerk when they've been treated to a free trip, so private companies can't quite wine and dine politicians completely off the books. Yet the change nonetheless allows lawmakers to take junkets in a more opaque fashion — right as such trips are becoming more and more common.