Guess which one is the Republican....
At the halfway point of his first term and at a time when privately paid travel for Congress is coming under intense scrutiny, Minnesota's Norm Coleman has emerged as one of the Senate's top travelers, according to a review of Senate records.
Coleman has accepted 46 privately financed trips since January 2003.
Coleman's trips range from retreats in Mexico and Spain paid for by the Aspen Institute to speaking engagements in Las Vegas and Miami paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He has taken a total of 122 trips, including 23 out-of-state or international trips at government expense. Those have included fact-finding committee trips to such places as Cuba, Brazil and Jordan.
The rest were political trips, paid for by his campaign or political action committee or by other sources, such as the Republican National Committee. Six of his privately financed trips also included some government funding.
While Coleman has accepted 46 privately financed trips in the past three years, Sen. Mark Dayton had none.
Dayton, who supports a ban on private travel, said that travel in general is invaluable for a senator but that Congress provides committee and office budgets to pay for it.
"It's possible to do all that traveling ... and do it at public expense," Dayton said. "You've got to justify to the taxpayer why it's worth the dollar, but that's a different matter. Then I'm not obligated to anybody and I'm truly independent."
He said privately financed trips amount to influence peddling: "When they invite us somewhere, it's because they're looking for a return on their investment. ... We should be beholden only to the people we represent."