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Friday, September 21, 2018

By Alex Gangitano, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has a lawsuit on its hands over lawmakers jetting off together.

The group Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking records about official congressional delegation travel, also known as CODELs. Air Force jets and personnel usually are the means of travel for CODELs, and Judicial Watch is looking for records concerning travel costs.

“Congress, under both Republicans and Democrats, has a long record of abusing taxpayers and the military with wasteful ‘official’ travel,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has declined to use Air Force jets to travel between Wisconsin and Washington, which former Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, also did.

In 2009, Judicial Watch knocked Rep. Nancy Pelosi for what it said was the “abuse” of using Air Force jets to travel between her congressional district and Washington when the California Democrat was speaker. The practice was utilized because of her place in the presidential succession process, behind the vice president.

In August, the group requested congressional travel records from the Air Force and was “ignored,” according to its release. The request involved records regarding mission-taskings of flights escorting members, transportation costs for members, passenger manifests for transporting members and weekly travel reports for members.

Judicial Watch has also previously sued for information on President Barack Obama’s presidential travels and how much taxpayers pay for them.

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Photo: Members of the House of Representatives meet on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2015 in Washington, DC