HARRISBURG-- Nine members of the state House of Representatives who were defeated or retired last year took taxpayer-paid trips in the months before they left office, a newspaper reported.
It cost nearly $14,000 to send the departing lawmakers, including two from southwestern Pennsylvania, to legislative conferences and at least one educational seminar, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported.
Eight of the nine had already lost or been defeated at the time they took the trip or trips, and the ninth announced his retirement shortly afterward.
Details about some of the conferences were not available.
"The main purpose of these trips is to train lawmakers to better exercise their legislative duties, give them a kind of expertise and training they need to become better legislators," said Barry Kauffman, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause of Pennsylvania. "Since they will not be in the Legislature much longer, it's difficult to justify approving those requests."
Tom Andrews, a spokesman for the House Democrats, said even those who are leaving continue to work and exchange ideas until their terms end.
"You get quite a bit from those conferences," said former Rep. Mark McNaughton, R-Dauphin, whose two trips cost $3,200. "Inventive ideas don't always come from Pennsylvania."
The paper reported that the other representatives who took the trips were Ken Ruffing, D-Allegheny, $1,300; James Shaner, D-Fayette, $1,700; Linda Bebko-Jones, D-Erie, $700; Sue Cornell, R-Montgomery, $2,000; Tom Corrigan, D-Bucks, $1,200; Gib Armstrong, R-Lancaster, $300; Bob Flick, R-Chester, $2,400; and Rod Wilt, R-Mercer, $1,000.