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Sens Travel the Globe on Privately Funded Trips

Senators traveled to exotic foreign capitals and fabulous resort towns with beaches and golf courses in 2004 — all in the name of business of course and rarely on their own dime.

One such trip was taken by Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who went to Cape Town, South Africa, for an international affairs conference, according to the Senate's financial disclosure forms. That trip was paid for by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Republicans also hit the road. Foreign Relations chair Richard Lugar, R-Ind., went on seven trips paid for by the Aspen Institute think tank, including to Hawaii; Cancun, Mexico; Barcelona; Venice, Italy, and Geneva, Switzerland.

Lugar is a member of that think tank.

Samaritan's Purse picked up Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's air transportation to Chad, Sudan and Kenya on a fact-finding mission last August, and his meals there.

The complaint that the Senate is a "millionaires' club (search)" has some basis in fact, at least among the leaders.

Frist reported blind trusts (search) — where the owner has no knowledge of where the money's being invested — worth between $7 million to $35 million. The income from the largest blind trust brought in $1 million to $5 million, his paperwork shows.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada didn't have as much as Frist in the bank, but made $1 million to $5 million in 2004 by selling a piece of property in Las Vegas and a 47 percent interest in an adjoining property.

He also listed as major assets municipal and school district bonds worth between $895,026 and $2,101,000 and a pension plan stock in oil, medical, technology, banking and other companies worth between $383,047 and $1,552,000.

The financial disclosure forms (search) also gives the public a rare glimpse inside senators' personal lives.

For example, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., collected another $2,376,716 in royalties for her memoirs, "Living History," making her total take so far from the book near $8.7 million.

Under reporting rules, former President Clinton, as a spouse of a senator, is only required to report that he received more than $1,000 in payments for his best-selling autobiography "My Life," though published reports have said he inked a deal worth $10 million to $12 million with publisher Alfred A. Knopf.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., reported a $15,938 advance to write the suspense novel she's working on, "A Time to Run," about an activist senator who does battle with right-wing ideologues.

Also in the publishing business was Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who reported a $60,000 advance payment from W.W. Norton & Co. of New York, a book publishing company.

W.W. Norton also paid for Byrd to take several trips to promote the book "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency," in which Byrd argues that President George W. Bush "is in a class by himself — ineptitude supreme."

There will be at least one movie star in the Senate: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will appear in the summer movie "The Wedding Crashers" starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, with his payments directed to select charities, according to his form.

Some other interesting tidbits that showed up in this year's disclosures include the fact that Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has bought his brother's house — former President John Kennedy's Hyannisport home — and is renting it out to other family members.

Kennedy paid his niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her husband $3 million for the property, which is located next to his property on the Kennedy family compound. Sen. Kennedy also reported between $50,000-100,000 in rental income.

Also on the real estate front, Dodd reported ownership in a cottage in County Galway, Ireland, that's worth somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and ranking member on Senate Aging Committee, listed his NBA basketball team, the Milwaukee Bucks, as worth more than $50 million. A more specific number comes from Forbes magazine, which last year valued the Bucks at $199 million in its annual survey, putting it last in the league.

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