The Export-Import Bank seeks to save export subsidies, but it seems less interested in saving money on its travel budget, the Washington Examiner reports.
In fact, the Export-Import Bank exceeded its travel budget by about $1 million in each of the past three years, according to The Hill.
Citing “disclosures filed to the House Financial Services Committee,” the article claims Ex-Im has spent $8.2 million on travel since 2012, but only budgeted for $5.2 million.
Ex-Im President Fred Hochberg said the bank’s travel expenses have two primary purposes. One is to “support due diligence and monitoring efforts associated with a particular transaction,” and the other is “business development.”
However, The Hill reports that there was another motivation for the travel: “Much of the recent travel appears designed to build public support for the bank, which is in danger of seeing its charter lapse.” (RELATED: Conservatives Split on Export-Import Bank)
Tim Carney, in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, pointed out that the interpretations were not mutually exclusive, and that Ex-Im commonly hosts “forums that have the dual purpose of encouraging businesses to pursue Ex-Im subsidies, and grass-roots lobbying for renewal of Ex-Im’s charter.” (RELATED: Don’t Kill the Ex-Im Bank, Expand It)
He refers to a press release put out by Ex-Im last week touting “a series of forums, discussions, and small-business stops to increase awareness among American small businesses of how the Export-Import Bank can help them boost their exports abroad.” (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Crony Capitalism?)
Carney equates that practice to “barnstorming the country to try and rally the businesses you subsidize to push lawmakers to keep the subsidies flowing.”
“To be fair,” Carney also acknowledges that travel expenses for Ex-Im officials are sometimes picked up by the companies they work with. (RELATED: Export-Import Bank Accused of Conflicts of Interest)
In 2010, Bloomberg reported that Exxon Mobile paid nearly $100,000 so that four Ex-Im employees could travel to Papua New Guinea to inspect a natural gas project for which the bank was considering providing financing assistance. According to the article, Ex-Im eventually “approved $3 billion in financing for the liquefied natural gas facility, the biggest transaction in the agency’s 75 years.”
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