Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach) has traveled abroad at the taxpayers' expense more than any other U.S. congressman but one, according to a study released today by Congress Watch, a Washington public interest group.
As the House of Representatives' second-ranked "frequent flier," Badham made eight trips to 27 foreign countries from Jan. 1, 1984, to Sept. 30, 1985, Congress Watch said. Only Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-New York) flew more often than Badham, with nine foreign trips to 45 countries in the same 21 months.
Such trips by touring congressmen, their aides and sometimes their wives cost U.S. taxpayers $9.28 million in the 1984-1985 period, according to Congress Watch, which got its figures from periodic expense reports in the Congressional Record.
'Sounds Like Awful Lot of Fun'
Badham spent between $2,500 and $12,844 per trip for a total of $45,628 over the 21-month period, said Nancy Drabble, Congress Watch director. Some of Badham's trips were probably justified, Drabble said.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 27, 1986 Orange County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 2 Column 3 Metro Desk 2 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
In last Sunday's edition, the number of countries Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach) visited from Jan 1, 1984, to Sept. 30, 1985, was incorrectly reported due to a typographical error. According to the public interest group Congress Watch, Badham made eight trips to 17 countries during the period.
But, "it also sounds like it's an awful lot of fun," she said, noting one $7,983, 15-day excursion through Portugal, Belgium, Israel, Denmark, the Soviet Union and Austria.
Badham, 54, did not dispute the number of trips cited by Congress Watch. But he called its criticisms "bunk."
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, a delegate to the North Atlantic Assembly and one of 40 congressmen with access to "black" or secret military programs, the five-term congressman said he needs to travel frequently.
"Sure, I could have skipped all of these (trips). But the question is, is the travel essential to the stewardship of $300 billion spent on the defense of this country?" he said.
Besides, said Badham, who admits he loves to fly, "whether or not Bob Badham goes, the airplane (one of 17 military jets reserved for congressional trips) is going to go."
And if there's space on the plane, he argued, why shouldn't his wife go too? Badham added that he pays all meals and other expenses for his wife--except for the cost of flying in a military plane "because how do you charge that off?"
Wife Often Tours or Shops
His wife often tours a city or goes antique shopping when he's on congressional business, Badham said, but she also meets with foreign leaders' wives and generally acts as a U.S. emissary.
Badham was especially irked with a section of the Congress Watch report that claimed that in winter months, congressmen had taken 20 trips to warm climates--to Barbados, Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil, Bermuda and the Bahamas. (Badham, this January, had spent part of the recess on an Armed Services Committee trip to the South Pole that included stops in New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti.)
Badham agreed that he and his colleagues sometimes traveled to warm climates--sometimes too warm, he said, recalling a trip last August to Morocco and Tunisia.
"We weren't lying around on the beach getting sunstroke," he said. "When you go on these trips, it's wall-to-wall business. We meet people from military dependents to military leaders to foreign heads of state."
Badham said he couldn't recall why one 1984 European trip had included a swing through Italy. He did remember that "the chairman of the delegation was of Italian descent and he wanted to go to Italy." Still, such personal stops are not the norm, Badham said.
In the past several years, Badham frequently has come under fire for his trips abroad. In 1984, United Press International reported that Badham was Congress' leading junketeer, spending $90,000 in foreign trips from December, 1982, to October, 1983. Badham said he had spent only $38,000.
Maintains His Position
Again, in September, 1983, Congress Watch named Badham as one of three House members who had taken nine trips each in 2 1/2 years, more trips than any other member of Congress. Badham said then that he traveled because he needed to travel. He has not changed that position.
"I think I'm doing a good job. My constituents think I'm doing a good job," he said this week. Badham is seeking a sixth term representing the 40th Congressional District, and he said he doesn't plan to change his style.
A GLOBE-TROTTING CONGRESSMAN From Jan. 1, 1984, to Sept. 30, 1985, Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach), ranked No. 2 among the House of Representatives' "frequent fliers," made eight trips to 27 foreign countries in his roles as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, a delegate to the North Atlantic Assembly and one of 40 congressmen with access to secret military programs.
Destination Expenses France; June 2-6, 1984 $3,832 South Korea; July 14-16, 1984 719 England, Belgium, Italy; Nov. 8-20, 1984 12,844 Europe, Israel, Soviet Union; Jan. 4-19, 1985 7,982 West Germany; May 16-20, 1985 6,990 France; May 31-June 4, 1985 4,651 Korea; June 30-July 7, 1985 2,591 Europe, North African states; Aug. 3-16, 1985 6,019 Total Expenses $45,628
Figures taken from Congressional Record by public interest group Congress Watch .