WASHINGTON – Sen. Arlen Specter spared no expense on a junket last week to Europe and the Middle East -- ordering cases of Evian water, a driver, a personal assistant, Boca Burgers and daily squash matches.
During last week's holiday tour, Specter's staff scrambled to rustle up people for him to meet -- even as they focused on plans for Specter (R-Pa.) and his wife, Joan, to enjoy the finest dining, opera, theater and social gatherings.
Specter's team demanded that he get one meeting in Berlin on Dec. 31 -- but only one meeting so he could enjoy himself that day.
Joan Specter was to be shown parts of "local cultural products" and "unique marketplaces & bazaars" wherever the couple went.
Specter's demanding travel needs surfaced this week after e-mails detailing his Dec. 23 to Jan. 6 junket plans were obtained by the Washington Post. One e-mail that said that when in Israel, Specter "will want a driver and escort -- even for visit with his sister."
During the junket, diplomatic types were warned never to schedule events in the evening, since Specter and his wife "like to do their own thing" at night, an e-mail said. Specter also was to have a squash court reserved for him every evening at 5 p.m. on the dot.
"This guy is a prima donna," fumed David Williams, vice president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "This guy is no friend of taxpayers."
After starting his trip in London, Specter's office scheduled him meetings with Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Syria's Bashar Assad and others.
Mrs. Specter "will want an escort at each country and will likely be interested in sightseeing or shopping," according to one e-mail.