House Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry received $31,967 in per diem payments last year, more than any other state lawmaker, according to a review of 2007legislative expense payments.
In the case of DeBerry, many of the payments came as a result of 14 out-of-state trips she made last year. DeBerry is chairman of the board of the State Legislative Leadership Foundation, an international organization that paid her travel expenses for trips to Germany, Lithuania and China.
That means the travel cost taxpayers nothing, as was the case with her other trips within the United States. But while she was making those trips, DeBerry collected per diem payments as allowed under rules governing the payments. She received $1,288 in per diem for the China trip.
This is an outrage. How does this travel benefit Tennesseans? Not at all is how. These trips are simply free international vacations for Lois. Slopping at the trough is all it is. Send Lois a message:
Lois has been Speaker Pro Tempore of the House too long. It's affecting her judgment on this sort of thing. Maybe on other things, too, like taking cash from the federal sting agent in the Tennessee Waltz prosecution, to gamble it away in Tunica. Here's the AP story, and here's a search on the subject. And here's the great Tom Humphrey's comprehensive article on Tennessee legislators' per diem and travel in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, as reprinted in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
UPDATE: Channel 4 in Nashville reports: "Lawmakers Travel Despite Budget Tightening"; and two Memphis legislators have spent the most: Rep. Joe Towns and Sen. Reginald Tate. Read their lame explanations here.