The non-profit organization provided an estimate for the cost of free travel for a member of Congress to the Middle East that proved be only one-third of the real cost.
The Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce provided an estimated cost figure of $4,065 to Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., for a free trip to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar from August 30th to September 6th. The purpose of the trip was to lead a delegation of businessmen and women, educators, and researchers to explore “improving trade relations between these countries and building stronger and better relations.”
After filing the primary trip sponsor form, and taking the trip, Rep. Davis received the actual costs figures and amended his travel forms to state the actual cost was $12,049.
The Board of Advisors of the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce includes the chairman of the Middle East Practice at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP; the CEO of ConocoPhillips; the president of Shell Oil Company (ret.); the chairman of Marathon Oil Corporation; the CEO of ATX Oil LLC; the CEO of KeySpan Energy Corp.; the Executive Vice President of BG America and Global LNG; the president of ExxonMobil Gas and Power Marketing; among others.
A September press release from the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce stated the trip was to bring a delegation of small and medium enterprises (SME) and minority business leaders from the State of Illinois on a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates. However, it does raise a question about the true sponsorship of the trip after further stating, “Sponsored by Etihad Airlines, the first Arab airline to operate direct service between Chicago and the Arab Gulf, the trade mission will also visit the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Qatar before returning to the U.S. later this week.”