The conservative National Legal and Policy Center’s president, Peter Flaherty, traveled to St. Maarten and found evidence that corporate sponsors paid for the conference.
House rules imposed by Democrats after they took back the House in 2006 bar lawmakers from accepting travel lasting more than two days if corporations that “employ or retain a registered lobbyist” are underwriting or organizing any part of them.
Lawmakers who attended listed the New York Carib Foundation, a non-profit group affiliated with a newspaper aimed at New York City’s U.S. Caribbean immigrant community, as the sponsor.
But photos and transcripts taken by Flaherty show evidence of corporate involvement. Several banners above and below the main podium included corporate logos of Pfizer, Citigroup, IBM, Verizon, AT&T, Macy’s and American Airlines. Flaherty also heard Kilpatrick and Payne thank business “sponsors.”