Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Peoria media think Peorians don't need to know about LaHood's travel perks

What do people San Francisco; Fort Worth; Miami; Chicago; Salt Lake City; Little Rock, and Longview, Arkansas; Canton, Ohio; and even Manchester, UK have in common?

Their city's newspapers carried this article: Free Trips Yield Bonuses for Lawmakers.

The article begins:

Globe-trotting members of Congress reap a valuable fringe benefit they do not disclose: frequent-flier miles from trips they take at the expense of special interests or taxpayers. It does not take long for the miles to add up for free personal travel or upgrades to first class.

"There's no question it's a definite benefit. I would call it a nice perk," said Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill. He uses the frequent flier miles for upgrades and personal free trips, such as travel to charity golf tournaments in Sun Valley, Idaho.

LaHood and his wife each accumulated about 13,500 miles this year from a round trip between Chicago and China financed by the Aspen Institute. LaHood was among a dozen lawmakers attending a conference on U.S.-China relations sponsored by the Washington-based think tank.

Guess what city isn't on the list of those whose daily newspapers carried that article?


Which is kind of odd, because Ray represents Peoria.

I did a search of Google News and saw the story ran all over the world, but not in the Journal Star. The JS had access to that article, and I know Google includes the JS in its searches. So while it's possible this story ran someplace in the JS and I missed it, I really doubt it. I expect if I am wrong, I'll be corrected. I also don't recall seeing it on any of the other Web sites run by Peoria media.

There might be an innocent explanation. Perhaps they all just happened to miss it. Perhaps these editors and news directors considered running it, but came to the conclusion that there is no particular reason why the voters of Peoria -- or even Illinois, considering that LaHood is running for governor -- have any particular need to know that the guy is personally benefiting from the lobbyists who are paying his travel expenses.

Whatever the reason, the end result is that people in St. Francisco and Little Rock know something about Peoria's congressman than do the people of Peoria.

That is appalling.

I learned about it only because Willy Nilly finally posted an article after a several-week hiatus.

Willy says that LaHood won't discuss the paid-for travel issue with the local media. Actually, he was asked, and gave incorrect answers.

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