Democrat Reps. Eric Swalwell (CA) and Ruben Gallego (AZ) posed in a photo during a trip to Qatar earlier this year that was allegedly paid for by a special interest group.
“The pandemic-era excursion appears to have happened during a trip funded by the US-Qatar Business Council, a trade group that spent more than $84,000 to fly Reps. Eric Swalwell of California and Ruben Gallego of Arizona and their loved ones to Qatar, along with three other lawmakers, according to the nonpartisan LegiStorm website that tracks such travel,” Business Insider reported. “The photos suggest the lawmakers strayed from their official duties during the trip — one of several that private interests have paid for dozens of lawmakers’ travel this year. It’s unclear whether the camel ride violated House ethics rules about privately funded travel.”
The trip came as America was still largely gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and as vaccination efforts were ramping up. Three other lawmakers, including Reps. Luis Correa (D-CA), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), and Lisa McClain (R-MI), went on the trip but were not featured in photos of the camel ride.
“House rules forbid private groups from paying for entertainment, which could include a golf game, theater performance, or even a camel ride, during such trips,” the report added. “But family members are allowed to tag along, and routinely do so. The Qatar trip happened despite a surge in coronavirus cases in Qatar at the time, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, now considered outdated, that urged everyone to wear masks even when outdoors and vaccinated.”
The report noted that Swalwell and Gallego’s offices did not respond to questions about whether U.S. taxpayer dollars were spent on the trip.
While Eric Swalwell was scolding people for not following COVID rules he was taking special-interest funded trips to Qatar where he was maskless (and shirtless) riding camels. https://t.co/OulueU83Dh https://t.co/pzQrzcL8Sx pic.twitter.com/4iMTXqihaj
— Mike Berg (@MikeKBerg) July 9, 2021
The story drew the most negative attention for Swalwell, with many noting another problematic story that he has had to deal with in recent months about his relationship with an alleged Chinese spy.
“Sigh. Chinese-spy linked Swalwell is back in the news,” Rebeccah Heinrichs, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote on Twitter. “Always interesting to see just how bad he can be w/out consequences from his party.”
Sigh. Chinese-spy linked Swalwell is back in the news. Always interesting to see just how bad he can be w/out consequences from his party https://t.co/pjSXaMR4Cp
— Rebeccah Heinrichs (@RLHeinrichs) July 10, 2021
“House intelligence committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell took a mid-pandemic break from questions about his relationship with Chinese spy Fang Fang,” New York Post reporter Steven Nelson tweeted, “and posed shirtless atop a camel during a junket to Qatar.”
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