As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants _ all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire. Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.
Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.
Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress.
Put them together and an opulent lifestyle emerges.
On R.J. Reynolds' planes, smoking is allowed and there are usually beverages and deli-style food. There's more leg room and the convenience of phones.
The smoking rule suits DeLay, who likes to chomp on cigars while golfing and reported spending at least $1,930 in PAC money on cigar- shop purchases. The cigars were reported to the Federal Election Commission as donor gifts.
DeLay's political committee also reported a $2,896 shopping spree at the Amelia Marche Burette gift shop on Amelia Island, Fla., for donor gifts. The shop carries "gourmet cookware, Sabatier cutlery and gadgets for your every need."
UPDATE: Did I mention that DeLay's old buddy - and frequent travel agent - Jack Abramoff is warming up his vocal cords for the Feds?
UPDATE: Juanita puts Tom's travels in graphical terms.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 21, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack