The junket U.S. Rep. John Larson took to Dublin earlier this month was bipartisan, productive, and not paid for with taxpayer dollars. Or at least that’s how he described it Monday after a tour of a defense manufacturer here in Connecticut.
The trip, including lodging, airfare, and meals for both Larson and his son, Ray, was paid for by the Ripon Society and the Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange. According to the travel expense form filed with the House Clerk’s office, the center paid about $15,300 for Larson and his son to attend the conference and stay at the 5-star Merrion Hotel in Dublin.
In an interview Monday, Larson stressed that the trip was not paid for by taxpayer dollars and was productive in promoting trade and exchanging ideas on the economy.
Larson said he was a “sought after” member of Congress for the trip because of his position on the Ways and Means Committee and his subcommittee assignments, which deal with “both the tax code and the issue of trade.”
He said he was extended an invitation by the group in the past and this is the first time his schedule allowed him to travel. He was joined by 30 other members of Congress.
“This also is their effort to try and bring about bipartisanship,” Larson said.
The purpose of the trip was to meet with Irish officials for a discussion of the economy, jobs, and trade issues, Larson said. But he also had the opportunity to bond with Republican members of Congress on a more personal level away from the hustle and bustle of the beltway.
“Probably the biggest benefit is that I got to be with a number of Republican colleagues that I normally wouldn’t be with and you’re together for the whole time,” Larson said.
Altogether there were 24 Republicans and seven Democratic members of Congress who went on the trip. Each was allowed to bring a guest. Larson needed to get special permission from the House Ethics Office to bring his son, who is under the age of 18.
And while there were tentative plans to meet up with former Sen. Chris Dodd, who has a home in Ireland and planned to be in Dublin on some of the same days as Larson, their schedules didn’t quite sync up. Dodd is now chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.