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Government Watchdog Database Is Online

July 11, 2006 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- More than 25,000 public documents detailing privately funded travel by members of Congress and their aides worth nearly $50 million are now available in an online searchable database to reporters, government watchdogs, researchers and the general public in two Web locations.

The “Power Trips” database is the product of nearly a year's worth of investigative research by journalism students at Northwestern University's Medill School, staff at the Center for Public Integrity and reporters at American Public Media. Visiting either of the two sites will give users the opportunity to look up specific travelers, destinations, costs, and sponsors of nearly 23,000 privately sponsored trips taken by individual lawmakers and their staff from January 2000 to June 2005.

The database is located at the following URLs:

http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/staffers/travdat/index.shml http://www.publicintegrity.org/default.aspx

Going to either of the online locations allows users to easily look up the records of lawmakers and aides and makes transparent the congressional forms related to congressional travel that often are kept out of public view, filed in a difficult-to-read manner or left incomplete.

“Power Trips,” the second study of privately sponsored congressional travel done by Northwestern University's Medill School and American Public Media, reveals that members of Congress and their staffs often accept privately sponsored trips to places around the world that are sponsored by groups with legislative interests before Congress.

The second “Power Trips” study findings were released in early June and can be found on the Web sites of the three research study partners:

Northwestern University's Medill School at www.medillnewsdc.com/power_trips/

American Public Radio at www.americanradioworks.org/power

Center for Public Integrity at www.publicintegrity.org.

For further information about either of the “Power Trips” studies, contact the Medill News Service at (202) 661-0127.

Topics: Research