Rep. Rob Wittman paid more than $3,200 from his office budget in December 2009 to Podium Master, which conducts public speaking seminars and offers private coaching.
“The meetings support coordination between our Washington and Minneapolis offices and help us to better serve our constituents,” Ellison spokesman Micah Clemens said.
Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) reported a $329 payment to Netroots Nation in July 2010. Spokesman Donald Lathbury said the funds paid for his registration to the group’s annual convention.
“It’s an opportunity to learn what Internet tools are available for communication professionals,” Lathbury said. He touted the office’s efforts to employ technology, such as using smartphones to stage a mobile video town hall meeting between Garamendi and his constituents.
“We’re proud of the work we’re doing online, and this is an extension of that,” Lathbury said.
Both Rep. Ben Ray Luján and the House Foreign Affairs Committee have spent funds on language training.
The New Mexico Democrat’s office paid nearly $3,300 to language software company Rosetta Stone for services in December 2009.
A Foreign Affairs Committee aide said the panel’s $2,300 payment to the State Department in September likewise went to provide Spanish language training to a committee staffer.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office paid $1,200 to Moore Information for “training expenses,” which an aide to the Washington state Republican said provided for a “confidential peer evaluation survey.”
“As part of that survey, members of the Congresswoman’s staff were able to give confidential feedback on other staff members, the Congresswoman herself, and the office in general,” McMorris Rodgers spokeswoman Riva Litman said. The office also received a report on the survey’s findings.
Both the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics made payments to the information firm Lexis-Nexis in the last half of 2010, spending $1,800 and $750, respectively.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) reported a $400 payment to the American Red Cross in June.