Power Trips: "The Big Fish"

Contact: Brad Robideau
American Public Media

Power Trips: "The Big Fish"

Marketplace® Report: Powerful Members of Congress Mingle with Energy Lobbyists at Exclusive Alaskan Resort

3 Senators Violate Ethics Rules; Who Paid for Others is Unclear

(Washington, DC) June 26, 2006—At least three U.S. Senators violated Congressional ethics rules by accepting lodging or travel expenses to attend an annual Alaska charity fishing trip with energy lobbyists and other executives, according to a new investigative report by Marketplace® and American RadioWorks.®

In addition, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott declined to reveal who paid for their travel to the event, despite numerous inquiries by Marketplace.

For over a decade, business executives have sponsored an annual fishing trip for members of Congress at The Waterfall, one of the countryís most exclusive fishing camps. The event supports a charity founded by Nancy Murkowski, wife of Alaskaís Republican governor and former U.S. senator, Frank Murkowski. The charity raises money for breast cancer prevention and treatment programs. Marketplace identified at least ten Senators who have attended the event at different times in the past decade.

Oil and energy industry executives and lobbyists contributed thousands of dollars to go fishing with the lawmakers, including high-ranking executives from British Petroleum, Amoco, Marathon Oil, and several other firms, as well as the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s lobbying group in Washington.

"Power Trips: The Big Fish" broadcasts on Marketplace on public radio stations nationwide June 26.

The Web site, www.americanradioworks.org/power, also features a new searchable database open to the public. The database was created for the investigative series, “Power Trips: Congressional Staffers.” It was the result of a year-long investigation by American Public Media reporters, Northwestern University Medill School graduate students and Center for Public Integrity staffers who analyzed 25,000 travel documents from January 2000 to June 2005, filed not only by Congress members but also by their staffs.

"The Big Fish" is the latest follow-up to the landmark "Power Trips" reporting from Marketplace and American RadioWorks, which put the spotlight on the little known loophole that allows members of Congress to accept travel from educational organizations and non-profits, even those run by powerful lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Those investigations also uncovered trips that broke congressional rules and spurred intensified scrutiny of Senate and House ethics rules and reporting.