Kochvar's telecom junket
Some more digging on Brooks Kochvar turned up an additional lobbyist-funded trip, which I missed the first time because of a typo in the legislative trips database (he is listed as "Brooks Kochvas.") According to the American RadioWorks investigation, Kochvar took a trip to San Diego in April 2003 for a conference sponsored by SBC Telecommunications, with all expenses paid:
Destination: DEPART WASHINGTON, DC APRIL 22 AND RETURN APRIL 25 DESTINATION SAN DIEGO
Sponsor: SBC Communications Inc
Purpose: CONGRESSIONAL STAFF SEMINAR ON TELECOM INDUSTRY
Date: Apr 22, 2003 (3 days)
Here's the original document in Kochvar's own handwriting (PDF.)
Interestingly enough, San Diego is the home turf of disgraced Congressman Duke Cunningham, for whom Kochvar previously worked. I can't find any evidence that Kochvar met Cunningham for some catch-up time while he was in San Diego, or that Cunningham was even in San Diego on those dates. I also can't find any indication that any of Duke Cunningham's staffers attended this SBC conference. Nevertheless, it is an interesting coincidence, because that April 2003 timeframe would put the trip smack dab in the middle of some of Cunningham's shady dealings:
Jan. 13, 2003: $3,000 and $30,000 checks deposited into his personal bank accounts in San Diego.
May 8, 2003: California registration of a 1999 GMC Suburban with altered title claiming he paid $18,000 instead of below-market price of $10,000.
May 14, 2003: $8,000 check he deposited into his personal credit union account in Washington, D.C.
June 20-22, 2003: $2,731.33 in checks to a resort for lodging and meals, $1,500 gift certificate used to purchase a set of earrings and $400 for a charm and necklace.
I can't find any specifics on the SBC Telecommunications conference, either, but the list of other congressional staffers who attended the conference contains some good clues. Some staffers disclosed the trip only as a "fact-finding mission" (very noble), "educational" in nature, or as just a "congressional staff seminar," without mentioning the telecom connection. However, some staffers were more explicit.
A staffer from ND Sen. Byron Dorgan's office described it as:
CONGRESSIONAL STAFF TRIP TO VISIT SBC FACILITIES IN CALIFORNIA. IT WILL BE INVOLVE SEMINARS AND DISCUSSIONS ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY
Other staffers' descriptions:
TO UNDERSTAND THE MARKETPLACE POST TRIENNICAL REVIEW
FURTHER EXAMINE FCC RULINGS IN REGARD TO TELECOMM INDUSTRY
CONGRESSIONAL STAFF TELECOMMUNICATIONS SEMINAR: TO LEARN AND DISCUSS THE 1996 TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT AND THE FCC'S RECENT DECISIONS, AND THEIR IMPACT ON REGIONAL BELL OPERATING COMPANIES, THEIR LONG-DISTANCE COMPETITORS, AND THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTR
A look at Michele Bachmann's FEC filings shows several contributions from telecommunications industry PACs:
*$2,000 from AT&T's PAC
*$8,000 total from Verizon Wireless' PAC, the "Good Government Club"
*$500 from the U.S. Telecom Association PAC
There are probably more, and this doesn't count her contributions from individuals in these industries. Nor did I examine the filings of the "MN-06 Victory Committee."
Given these connections, we should be on the lookout for any attempt by Michele Bachmann's office to give handouts to SBC or the telecom industry.