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26 October 2008

Martin for Senate: Saxby Misleads About Lobbyist Ties

Saturday night at the FOX 5 Debate, Saxby Chambliss claimed he didn’t take trips with lobbyists. But he failed to account for his long and close ties to special interests including dozens of trips paid for by groups that lobby him in Congress. Chambliss later attempted to excuse the trips, saying, "There are lobbyists who go on trips that are sponsored under the ethics law."

"Saxby Chambliss once again showed that he can’t tell the truth to Georgia voters. It's one thing to take trips with lobbyists, but he should at least tell the truth about it. Middle class Georgians want a Senator who will stand up for them, not mislead them about his ties to Washington special interests." said Martin for Senate spokesperson Kate Hansen.

FACTS ON SAXBY’S SPECIAL INTEREST-FUNDED TRAVEL:

Between 2001 And 2006, Chambliss Took Privately Funded Trips Totaling $47,431. Chambliss, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, went on trips paid for agriculture industries and groups such as the Cotton Warehouse Association of America and the Dairy Farmers of America. Chambliss, who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, took a week-long trip to Italy to examine nuclear facilities in 2003. The Nuclear Energy Institute paid the $18,000 tab. “It is important to travel to see what is going on and to find out in person if the programs we spend a lot of money on are working,” Chambliss said. He said short speaking engagements are useful because they allow lawmakers to educate large groups of people about legislation before Congress. “There is no way in the world 1,000 people could come by my office and visit me one on one,” he said. [Legistorm, accessed 10/24/08; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2/19/2006]

Chambliss Has Taken Five Trips Funded By The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Where His Son Is A Lobbyist. Chambliss has taken three trips worth $12,352.11 paid for by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where his son Bo Chambliss is a registered lobbyist. [Secretary of the U.S. Senate]

  • Boca Raton, FL; 4,727.20 (2001)
  • Boca Raton, FL; 4,165.70 (2003)
  • Boca Raton, FL; 3,459.21 (2005)
Chambliss Has Gone To Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, FL, as Well as Asheville, NC On Sugar Industry Sponsored Junkets. In 2003, U.S. Sugar Company paid $1,191 for Chambliss’s transportation, lodging, food, and other expense for a junket that took him to both Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2006, The America Sugar Alliance paid for Chambliss’s $355 in lodging and meals in North Carolina where he made remarks to the International Sweetener Symposium. [Secretary of the U.S. Senate]

SATURDAY NIGHT'S DEBATE EXCHANGE:

Martin: Senator Chambliss, you know what I've been hearing as I go across this state from middle class Georgians is they believe that the special interests have too much influence in Washington. They see the lobbyists, and they see expensive trips that people go on, and they- they're outraged at that. Will you agree not to go on any trips paid for - or along with lobbyists in order to reestablish confidence by the people of Georgia that Washington – that people in Washington are standing up for their interests?

Chambliss: Yes. I don't take those trips now, Jim.

Martin: You don't take those trips now? Is that what you said?

Chambliss: It's against the ethics law to take those trips and I would not take those trips.

Martin: And do you go on trips with lobbyists?

Chambliss: [pause] There are lobbyists who go on trips that are sponsored under the ethics law. I do not take trips with lobbyists.