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Congressional Institute

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The Congressional Institute, Inc. is a Washington, D.C. organization that conducts research and hosts seminars on topics such as health care, taxes, energy, and the environment. The Institute is a non-profit organization funded by corporate contributions and run by top Republican lobbyists.

Links to tobacco interests

Arthur J. Stevens of Lorillard Tobacco Company was a member of the Congressional Institute's Private Sector Advisory Committee in 1994.[1]

Mission and expenditures

Since 1987, the Institute has spent millions of dollars to send lawmakers and their staff to the annual GOP leadership, chief of staff, and bicameral retreats. The Institute has worked with the House and Senate Republican Conferences to set up retreat agendas, develop discussion materials for members, and select speakers at the institute's meetings. [1]

The Institute holds at least one retreat for Republican leaders each year, and another for all House and Senate Republicans, usually at the Greenbrier, a resort in the West Virginia mountains, or other resorts in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. In 2005, the luncheon speaker at the was President George W. Bush. [2]

Conferences involve panels on policy topics of the day, from tax reform to Social Security. "We're not an advocacy organization; we don't take stands on issues and don't try to sell solutions," claims Jerome F. Climer, president of the organization. "We do work on complicated issues, unbundle them." [3]

According to travel records filed by members of Congress, during the period January 2000 - June 2005, the organization spent $61,000 on 74 trips, all for Republicans. [4]

Controversy

The Congressional Institute has drawn interest as a conduit through which lobbyists exert their influence without abiding by ethics rules. Ethics rules prohibit lobbyists from directly financing trips for members of Congress, but there are no such prohibitions on travel provided by nonprofit charitable and educational groups. According to a 2005 examination of congressional travel performed by the St. Petersburg Times, lobbyists often dominate the boards of directors of tax-exempt, nonprofit groups like the Congressional Institute, that take lawmakers on trips and retreats.

While the practice abides by the letter of the law, transparency advocates point out that the activities of these groups make a mockery of the intent of the law, and that the practice is "just one more faucet pouring big money into politics."[2]

Executives and Board of Directors

Staff

Board of Directors

Former Directors

  • Edward Hamberger a lobbyist and chairman of the Association of American Railroad, which has spent $46-million on lobbying since 1998, according to the Center for Public Integrity.[7]
  • Kenneth Cole, Vice President for Global Public Policy and Government Relations at General Motors. [8]

Funding

According to the group's tax returns for 2002 and 2003, the institute had about 40 donors who gave a total of about $2.3 million each year. Most of those donors, including UPS, SBC Communications, Verizon, and Union Pacific Corporation, are represented by one or more of the lobbyists on the institute's

Contact details

The Congressional Institute
401 Wythe St. #103
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: (703) 837-8817
Phone: (703) 837-8812
Email: info At conginst.org
Web: http://www.conginst.org/

External links

Congressional Institute Data

General Articles


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