Questions linger 8 years after Rehberg's infamous trip to Kazakhstan

Eight years ago this week, Congressman Dennis Rehberg spent several days on the taxpayer's dime visiting Kazakhstan.  Congressman Rehberg spent weeks defending the trip, following reports of an alcohol-related horse incident that broke Rehberg's rib.

But eight years later, questions remain about who was on the taxpayer-funded trip, and what it was supposed to accomplish, besides an infamous horseback ride in the mountains.

Here's what we do know:

  • The trip was organized by lobbyist Leo Giacometto, who runs a DC lobbying firm with questionable ties to Rehberg [Lee Newspapers, 3/5/06].
  • Congressman Rehberg, former Senator Conrad Burns, Giacometto, "a Qualcomm lobbyist," and rightwing talk show host Aaron Flint also attended [Lee Newspapers, 3/5/06].
  • Three of the 14 people who joined the trip were employees of companies that are Giacometto's clients.

"Congressman Rehberg's lobbyist junket simply doesn't pass the smell test -- just like Congressman Rehberg's account of the trip itself," said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. "Only a career politician like Congressman Rehberg would think there's nothing unusual about horseback riding with lobbyists in Kazakhstan on the federal government's dime.  Montana taxpayers deserve to know what they got out of this trip, besides Congressman Rehberg's hospital bill."

Earlier this year Congressman Rehberg got caught hiding $25,000 in contributions from lobbyists, and just last week he made national headlines after a photo of his 2009 boat crash on Flathead Lake was used by the U.S. Coast Guard on a boating safety flyer.

"The eight-year anniversary of Congressman Rehberg's questionable trip to Kazakhstan is a reminder that he's been in politics for a long time, and that he's failed to hold himself accountable to Montana the entire time," concluded Dick.

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