The whole kerfuffle arising out of Israel’s refusal to allow two members of Congress, Reps. Rashiba Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, to enter the country has been pretty suspicious from the start.
Omar claimed in their press conference last Monday that the two had planned to speak with members of the Israeli military who would confirm their story of the inhumane treatment of Palestinians by heartless Israelis. But word now emerges that no such interviews had been planned.
As for the visit, the pair could have made the trip to Israel a week earlier with a larger congressional congregation, but Tlaib and Omar decided not to go, perhaps because the larger codel trip was planned by AIPAC, which they consider the “enemy.”
Then there’s the whole matter of Tlaib’s tearful complaint that her sity (Arabic for “grandmother”) is 90 years old and that this might be her last chance to see her. But Tlaib hasn’t visited her sity in ten years. If the desire to see her once more before she dies is so strong, why didn’t Tlaib make the trip before now?
But the fishiest part of Tlaib’s story is why she declined Israel’s invitation to come ahead following a change of heart. Is it possible that the reason for her reluctance is that she would have had to pay for the trip out of her own pocket rather than on the taxpayer’s dime?
According to The Washington Free Beacon:
Tlaib (D., Mich.) would have had to pick up the costs of her trip to Israel to avoid an ethics violation once she told the Jewish state it was a personal trip to see her elderly grandmother.
The House Ethics Committee told the Washington Free Beacon it is unable to comment on a specific matter, but senior congressional aides say Tlaib taking money for the trip after spelling out its personal nature in a letter would have been a violation.
“When congresswoman Tlaib reapplied for entry into Israel for the sole purpose of visiting her grandmother, she made the entire trip a personal matter,” said one senior aide. “At that point going on her original trip and allowing the sponsoring group to pay for anything would constitute an illegal gift.”
“That’s why she couldn’t go. If she got on that plane she’d probably be breaking the law by accepting an illegal gift,” the aide said.
Kendra Arnold, executive director for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, said ethics rules are clear on personal travel.
“Once the trip’s purpose was for a personal matter, the trip should not be funded by taxpayer dollars or gifts from individuals or entities,” Arnold said, adding that Tlaib’s case would not qualify for any of the exceptions to the rule.