Government - Travel and Staffers

A report at the American RadioWorks web site caught your attention. Power Trips: Congressional Staffers Share the Road says that people who work for our Congressional legislators have been traveling and meeting with lobbyists. The lobbyists have paid for the trips. They sought to have the staffer's attention and to influence how the representative or senator will vote or which bills they will support. Federal Election Commission

question mark Conduct a survey of your class. Do you think this will lead to good government?


Use the resources in the site and your online research skills to find out if your senators or representative have permitted this with their staff.

Examine why and how these trips are a problem.

What consequence does this process have for the common citizen?

In January 2007, Congress passed new ethics rules. How do they address this issue?

CODEL is short for Congressional Delegation. A CODEL is any trip to foreign soil commissioned and paid for by the United States Congress for the purpose of fact-finding or diplomatic exchange. Members of a CODEL are granted diplomatic status and diplomatic passports for the duration of the trip and can, depending on the stability of the region involved and the profile of the delegation's members, be offered Secret Service protection. Curb size of senators’ entourages.

Whose travel should be covered by taxpayers? Who should pay their own way?

Is elected officials' international travel an effective use of tax dollars?


Write a letter regarding one of these issues to one of the individuals that represent you. Tell them how you feel about this issue and what you believe should be done about it. Endeavor to cite specific examples. Alternatively, you can write to someone who represents you at the state or local level.

Your challenges include: finding their office address, using the correct salutation including title, as well as, following appropriate business letter writing format.

*Many elected officials have an email form/link in their web site. It is reasonable to use this, in lieu of paper and postage, but format and style expectations remain the same. Write the letter in word processing. Edit it as needed. Then copy .. paste it into the email form. Some have a maximum character limit to emails. If that is the case, write the formal letter. Then drop the address heading and date from the email.


The Yes Men - A satirical approach to dealing with a problem/issue. Examples: WTO/GATT | Dow- Union Carbide | Ice Age Petition

Create a satirical skit or video regarding this issue.

"The true strength of rulers and empires lies not in armies or emotions, but in the belief of men that they are inflexibly open and truthful and legal. As soon as a government departs from that standard it ceases to be anything more than ‘the gang in possession,’ and its days are numbered." Herbert George Wells


Most legislators have their own web site use your online research skills to find it.

The Congressional Ethics Coalition Common Cause
CSpan Only action produces change
Clean Up Washington Writing to persuade

THOMAS - legislative information from the Library of Congress

Committee on Standards of Official Conduct - 110th Congress

How to track Federal Legislation using THOMAS Senate Committees Project on Government Oversight
Sunlight Foundation is the official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.
Government Integrity - The Power of facts from the Web  

Can a letter make a difference?

Look into the story of Sarah Josepha Hale. Her letter writing campaign is important to citizens in the USA in November. Or consider the advocacies of Anna Jarvis and Rachel Carson. Picking Letters, 10 a Day, That Reach Obama


"Behold the turtle for he does not move forward without sticking out his neck." PBL site / Rubric template - teacher resource

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developed by Cynthia J. O'Hora Released to public domain and Posted 11/2006