House Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (right) has been traveling the world despite announcing in December that he will retire at the end of this Congress.
Most careers end with a gold watch or a happy hour. For retiring House Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the parting gift from the nations taxpayers appears to be an all-expenses-paid tour of Italy, Switzerland and China.
Gordon told his constituents in mid-December that he was calling it quits after 13 terms. Since then, the Blue Dog Coalition member has embarked on a global victory lap of sorts, spending tens of thousands of dollars to sample international locales while traveling on official government business.
By June, Gordon will have traveled on six Congressional delegation trips in seven months. A House Democratic aide confirmed that Gordon attempted to organize a seventh trip in March to Madrid and Seville, Spain that was later called off.
Citing security concerns, Science panel spokeswoman Alex Dery Snider declined to discuss upcoming committee travel. Documents obtained by Roll Call, however, show that Gordon expects to touch down in Europe later this week for a six-day trip to Italy and Switzerland, where he will meet with European Union scientists and visit the Geneva-area Large Hadron Collider, a massive physics experiment that recently made headlines worldwide.
A March 9 e-mail sent by Science Committee staffer Leigh Ann Brown said the delegation was attempting to secure a military airplane for the sojourn.
In late May, Gordon is also expected to visit China on official business. According to a letter signed by Gordon, the delegation will meet with the chairman of the National Peoples Congress Science, Education, Culture and Public Health Committee to discuss renewable energy along with a look at Chinas work on clean coal and space and aeronautics issues.
I know it is difficult to find the time for the lengthy trip that travel to China requires, Gordon wrote in the letter to colleagues obtained by Roll Call. However, I am working on a tentative agenda for a trip over the Memorial Day recess.
Along with many of his Democratic colleagues, Gordon was part of a delegation that racked up a tab of at least $550,000 traveling to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, a CODEL that began three days after Gordon announced his retirement. According to the Congressional Record, Gordon flew on a military airplane and expensed roughly $1,500 per day during the 72-hour trip.
Gordon also traveled to France in February for meetings with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, his office disclosed.
This is all related to work, Snider said of her boss overseas travel.
In the weeks prior to his retirement announcement, Gordon and Democratic committee staffers spent more than $50,000 on two trips to Europe, the Congressional Record also shows. On Halloween 2009, Gordon and two committee staffers Brown and Chris King embarked on the first leg of a round-trip flight to the United Kingdom, where Gordon gave a speech to the U.K. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Flights for the trip totaled more than $30,000, and the trio spent roughly $1,400 apiece on expenses for the four-day jaunt.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.