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Mix of private, public money paid for officials' Israel visit


The following is from the July 21, 2011, edition of The San Antonio Express News. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

July 21, 2011

By Tracy Idell Hamilton

Taxpayers did not foot the bill for Mayor Julián Castro's recent trip to Israel, but they did help pay for some other public officials who made the five-day journey.

The Jewish Federation of San Antonio paid for Castro's airfare and tour package; the city of San Antonio shouldered the cost for Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. . .

It's not unusual for the federation to pay for public officials to visit Israel, said Howard Feinberg, the federation's current president and CEO. . .

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said it's very common for interest groups and even foreign governments to pay for elected officials, academics and opinion makers to travel abroad.

People complain when they go on the taxpayer's dime and they complain when someone else pays for the trip, because it may bias their view of that country, he said.

Using taxpayer dollars to bring additional business, trade and wealth to San Antonio is a good investment, Jillson said.

But that won't stop people from complaining, he warned: “It's really a no-win situation for public officials among their least-informed constituents.”

Read the full story.

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