In a report this month, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity said Cheney and his staff have sidestepped regulations that require annual reporting of travel expenses of more than $250 received from outside groups. The center, which focuses on ethics and public service issues, said previous vice presidents routinely disclosed such payments for lodging, travel and food when the veep and his staff made appearances at colleges, think tanks and trade associations.Well, at least, it used to.
"The private sector reimburses elected officials and bureaucrats for such trips, but laws require officials to disclose where they went, how much it costs and who paid for it," the report said, citing provisions found in Section 1353 of Title 13 of the U.S. Code.
Cheney's office says nothing is amiss. In three letters since 2002 to the Office of Government Ethics, which collects the travel reports, David S. Addington, then Cheney's general counsel, noted that the reporting requirement applies to the "head of each agency of the executive branch."
"The Office of the Vice President is not an 'agency of the executive branch,' and hence the reporting requirement does not apply," wrote Addington, who this month replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as Cheney's chief of staff.
And why do we care?
[A]according to the center's research, Cheney has given 23 speeches to think tanks and trade organizations and 16 at academic institutions since 2001 -- apparently all at taxpayers' expense.
"[I]t appears that his office labels them 'official travel,' " the center said. "As a result . . . the public is kept largely unaware of where he and his staff are traveling, with whom they are meeting and how much it costs, even though tax dollars are covering the bill."