You, the taxpayer, just reportedly spent an unknown sum of money to send U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, and eight other congressmen on a super-secret mission to Guyana, in South America, this week.
Officials involved have cut off all information to members of the press, including The Tennessee Star.
Six publications based out of Latin America, however, reported the trip this week. Going by a Google search, no U.S.-based media outlets have mentioned it.
The Congressional delegation reportedly consists of seven Republicans and two Democrats, including Cohen.
The other Democrat is Rep. Scott Peters of California.
The seven Republicans are Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, John Rutherford of Florida, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, John Curtis of Utah, Todd Rokita of Indiana, Richard Hudson of North Carolina, and Darrell Issa of California.
The last time Sanford traveled to South America without anyone knowing about it, of course, was to break his marriage vows.
No one in Sanford’s office returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment Monday. Neither did anyone in Cohen’s office. Only staff members from two of the nine congressmen would comment.
Katie Thompson, Curtis’ spokeswoman, did not dispute the accuracy of the reports coming out of Latin America.
“According to protocol, I cannot comment while the delegation is traveling for security reasons,” Thompson said in an emailed statement to The Star.
“The delegation is still traveling until the 30th. I really can’t say anymore until they all return to DC.”
Issa’s spokeswoman, Veronica Wong, however, denied the Latin America news stories.
“I don’t think he has ever been (to Guyana),” Wong said in an emailed statement.
“The article is incorrect as it relates to Mr. Issa. I cannot speak to any other detail of the article because he wasn’t there and didn’t attend.”
The Star then asked Wong if Issa had traveled out of the country at all either this week or last week. Wong has thus far not replied.
The Latin America-based News Americas Now, which, according to its website, has “the largest dedicated Caribbean news network,” says the congressmen were there to talk with Guyana Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.
“Neither the government nor the US embassy made any details on the visit public or the reasons for the visit and reporters were barred from asking members of the delegation questions,” the website reported.
The congressmen were there to discuss Venezuela’s current refugee crisis and how it will impact the Caribbean, the website said.
“None of the lawmakers made any public disclosure of the trip on their website or social media,” according to the website.
Cohen, in his most recent emailed newsletter to his constituents, sent out weekly, said nothing about a trip to Guyana.
The Caribbean Life News told a different story than News Americas Now.
According to that website, the congressmen went to Guyana to talk about a massive oil and gas discovery in that country in 2015, as well as more U.S.-owned businesses setting up shop there.
The World News, also Latin America-based, said the congressmen were there to meet with Guyana President David Granger and Minister of State Joseph Harmon. The website said several U.S. military officials accompanied the congressmen.
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