The News-Leader failed in that regard this morning.
In a report on the Seventh District Congressional race between incumbent Republican Billy Long, Democrat Jim Evans and Libertarian Kevin Craig, my examination of Long's disclosure reports, which have indicated four trips to Las Vegas paid for by campaign contributions was cited:
Campaign disclosure forms show Long has taken four trips this year, which includes flights to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Long’s critics, which include bloggers Jim Lee of Springfield and Randy Turner of Joplin, have questioned why Long is flying west instead of returning home to spend time with constituents.
The trips include: a Jan. 8 trip for the Consumer Electronics Association meeting in Las Vegas; a Feb. 10 fundraiser for the Safari Club International in Phoenix, Ariz.; and a June 24 Los Angeles fundraiser for the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Long, however, argued the trips were for topics he’s passionate about, such as continued U.S. support for Israel.
“I think supporting them is the right thing to do and only thing to do,” Long said.
I don't recall ever mentioning anything about Long going to Las Vegas instead of spending time with constituents. Not that it isn't a good question to raise, but my point was this- Why is Billy Long paying for Vegas trips with campaign contributions? Is this what his contributors thought they were getting when they gave him the money? Is this a legal or ethical way of using contributions?
While I have written about the Congressman's lack of town hall meetings and the laughable electronic town hall meetings with which they have been replaced, those are secondary questions.
This is what I wrote about Billy Long in the July 30 Turner Report:
A disclosure report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission shows yet another Las Vegas trip for Seventh District Congressman Billy Long.
The trip is at least the fifth one this year, and of those five trips, money for four came from his campaign bank account.
The latest disclosure report, covering the time period since July 1, shows Long reporting $936.32 for a stay at the Venetian Hotel. The date listed on the item is July 5. Apparently, earlier that day Long spent $609.29 for a meal at Tortilla Coast in Washington. D. C., a place where one reviewer wrote, "The food is great; the drinks are perfectly strong, but not too strong."
It is not clear what campaign event Long was attending in Las Vegas, but if he stayed at the Venetian Hotel on July 5 as the disclosure report indicates, he certainly picked a busy day at the hotel. On that same day, according to the hotel website, things were hopping at the Venetian Poker Room, especially in the "high-stakes area, featuring seven high-limit tables, two relaxation areas, butler service, and gourmet dining."
And as part of the poker room's "Deep Stack Extravaganza," a tournament was being held July 5, No Limit Hold 'Em with a $2,375 buy-in, a $125 entry fee, and a prize pot of $382,200.
Long's July quarterly report, filed on the 14th, indicates he made two trips to Vegas. As I noted in the July 17 Turner Report:
The report appears to show two trips to Vegas for Long since he has a listing for Allegiant Air, Las Vegas, $451.58 on May 21, and lists a meal at Mars Retail, Las Vegas, on April 11, with a cost of $303.74.
The first quarter disclosure report also shows a Vegas trip paid for by Long's campaign contributors, $241.26 for a flight with Allegiant Air, Las Vegas, on March 5.
Long's reports have also indicated a large number of meals paid for with campaign contributions and an incredible amount of money spent on travel, not just to Las Vegas or other outward destinations, but one gas refill after another.
The saddest part of the News-Leader article is that the newspaper is relying on bloggers such as Jim Lee of Bus Plunge and me to write, call our writing accusations, get a response and then congratulate themselves on a job well done.
The information is in public records. The News-Leader has far more ability to get answers than someone working a full-time job as a teacher. Hopefully, at some point, they will start asking the right questions.
And did I mention that this is the first mention of the large number of Vegas trips (and still not completely accurate) that I have seen in the News-Leader despite the fact that the most recent disclosure document was filed three weeks ago with the FEC?