State lawmakers received $164,000 in travel and perks from outside groups in 2017. They had meals, lodging, airfare and other costs covered by outside groups, or got payments for speeches or other services, according to analysis by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Jay Heck with Common Cause in Wisconsin contends the perks — given to members of both parties — come with expectations. “The special interest groups that pay for these trips expect something in return, and I don’t think there’s a citizen in Wisconsin that doesn’t think that’s the case.”
Heck said 30 years ago, paid junkets were almost unheard of. And he says state ethics rules that prohibit lawmakers from accepting “anything of value” need to be tightened up. “They should pay for out-out-state, out-of-country trips just like you and I do . . . . out of their own pocket.”