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A handful of Members of Congress have accepted more than $100,000 worth of free international travel from the religious organization affiliated with the C Street house, a Capitol Hill townhouse linked to recent Congressional sex scandals.
While most of the Members have taken a trip or two from the Fellowship Foundation, also known as the International Foundation, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) accepted foreign trips worth more than $50,000 over the past four years.
The Fellowship Foundation is a low-profile religious organization that has been in the news recently because of its connection to the C Street house, a townhouse on Capitol Hill that hosts regular prayer meetings and serves as the D.C. residence for several Members of Congress.
Since 2000, the organization has spent just over $101,000 on 13 foreign trips for Members of Congress to meet and pray with political leaders in other countries, according to Congressional travel records.
Aderholt alone has accepted seven trips from the group in the past four years, at a total value of $62,000. In 2006, Aderholt accepted three fellowship-funded trips to Kazakhstan, Sudan and Serbia worth a total of about $28,000.
Other Members who have accepted trips from the Fellowship Foundation are Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who also lives at the C Street house, and Republican Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.), Joe Pitts (Pa.) and John Carter (Texas), according to House records. Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) each also accepted one trip from the foundation. Both Senators have lived at the C Street house.
Detailed trip records filed by Aderholt and Doyle indicate that the foundation-sponsored journeys are generally designed to allow the Members to extend personal relationships with foreign dignitaries who visit the United States for the annual National Prayer Breakfast, which the Fellowship Foundation organizes.
For example, last month Aderholt spent a week in Greece, Albania and Croatia on a trip funded by the Fellowship Foundation at a cost of about $11,000. According to a detailed itinerary on file with the Clerk of the House, Aderholt arrived in Greece in time for the closing of the annual Southeast European Gathering, a Balkan version of the National Prayer Breakfast that he has attended several times on the foundations dime.
He then traveled to other countries in the region for private meetings with political figures as well as lunch w Serbian friend, shopping and sightseeing and dinner with local friends who have attended NPB.
Stan Holmes, an official with the Fellowship Foundation who arranged several of the Congressional trips, told Roll Call the travel is intended to follow up with some of the leaders that come from other countries to those prayer breakfasts. ... It is mostly about building those relationships and those friendships.
Holmes said that while many of the participants in the gatherings are political figures, there is no policy agenda and the events are not political. Its built around the spiritual realm. That is the purpose of the trips.
Aderholt spokesman DJ Jordan said in an e-mail: As an active participant with the National Prayer Breakfast since his first term in the House, Congressman Aderholt has traveled with the International Foundation to the Balkan Prayer Breakfast as a representative of the House Prayer Breakfast group with the hopes of promoting different factions working together and discussing the life and teachings of Jesus.