The military regularly spends thousands of dollars on alcohol, food and other "supplies" when representatives accompany lawmakers on overseas trips, according to travel records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The records indicate that the military spends freely on the trips and uses the occasions as opportunities to build relationships with lawmakers who might influence budgets or appointments, the paper wrote.
For example, an Army liason spent $7,000 on various expenses when Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., traveled to Europe in 2008 to study banking issues. Documents obtained by the Journal reveal the military’s motive. Correspondence dated Nov. 25, 2008, between Army officials whose names were blocked out read: "1. Establish a personal connection between the Army and Senator Dodd office. 2. Create Member access through relationships. 3. Educate members of Congress on FCS," a reference to the Future Combat Systems, the massive military modernization program that was killed in 2009.
Such trips are "a way to provide information about the Army to assist members of Congress and congressional staff in making fully informed decisions about Army policies, programs and budget," according to a statement from the Army.
In another example, the military spent $20,000 for baggage-handling tips, alcohol, snacks, refreshments and other "trip supplies" during a 13-day trip taken by 13 congressmen to Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam in January 2008, the Journal reported. That expense was in addition to the nearly $70,000 the lawmakers made public on travel-disclosure forms they filed with Congress.
A Journal analysis found that spending on overseas travel was reported to be $13 million in 2008, a tenfold increase from 1995.