Monday, April 16, 2012

One Week Later, Saldaña Still Fails to Explain Luxury Junkets

From the Peters campaign:

One Week Later, Saldaña Still Fails to Explain Luxury Junkets

Details Still Lacking on $39K in Travel/Gifts from Special Interests

San Diego, CA – One week ago today, the Scott Peters for Congress campaign called on candidate Lori Saldaña to release her expense reports, receipts, itineraries, agendas, correspondence and all other information pertaining to the more than $39,000 in gifts and trips she received from well-funded special interests while serving as a member of the California State Legislature.

Her response last week was that despite staying in five-star accommodations and having her own personal wait staff, the trips were not at all luxurious because she spent one day visiting a swine farm.

“The only response Lori Saldaña provided last week was that she needed a luxury resort and personal butler funded by special interests in order to gain first-hand experience in the science of swine ‘methane recapture’,” said Peters Campaign Manager Robert Dempsey. “That answer hardly passes the smell test and Lori Saldaña needs to come clean about exactly how she spent her time – other than the swine farm – and why such opulent trappings were required on a fact-finding mission.”

Saldaña accepted the majority of the $39,000 in the form of lavish trips to exotic destinations. She traveled to places such as Vietnam, China and Chile where she stayed at posh hotels, enjoyed expensive meals and even had her own personal wait service during a stay in Argentina. These luxurious junkets were funded by oil, gas and utility companies such as Chevron, Pacific Gas and Electric, AT&T and Sempra Energy. All of these corporations wanted her support for legislation that affected their bottom lines. And, she voted in their favor, both before and after the opulent travel.

“Lori Saldaña should release all documentation related to these expenses and explain to the voters how this isn’t a blatant conflict of interest,” he added.

From 2005 through 2009, Saldaña reported receiving $22,058 in travel as gifts, including a 2006 trip to South America. During the trip she stayed at exclusive hotels such as the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, and the five-star Ritz-Carlton in Santiago Chile. While staying at the spectacular Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, she even had her own personal butler to attend to her.

The 2006 South America trip was paid for by an organization funded by Chevron, AT&T, Sempra Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Comcast and Northern Star Natural Gas. She was joined on the trip by representatives from oil, gas and electricity companies and others.


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