WASHINGTON -- Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, and as many as 14 other members of Congress headed for a high-powered tour of liberated Kuwait last night with their traveling, dining and lodging costs paid by a California engineering and construction company.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer will also make the trip, although his costs will be paid for by the Kuwaiti government, said spokesman Paul Schurick.
Both the governor and the Lutherville congresswoman plan on using the trip to trumpet Maryland businesses in the rebuilding of Kuwait.
Kuwaiti Ambassador Sheik Saud Nasir al-Sabah invited the lawmakers, but the trip costs will be borne by Fluor Corp. of Irvine, Calif.
House rules restrict trips financed by foreign governments to cultural exchanges, said a staffer with the House Ethics Committee, which found no problem with the private company paying for their trip.
"We have been requested by the ambassador to sponsor 15 members of Congress," said Deborah Land, spokeswoman for Fluor Corp., who was unsure of the cost of the trip, which began last night and will end Sunday. "We have not determined the cost yet."
Each of the lawmakers received a letter this week from Fluor Corp. President Gerald M. Glenn, saying, "I am honored to cordially invite you to join me and other prominent U.S. corporations to fly on the first flight to Kuwait," said an aide to Mrs. Bentley.
The fact-finding trip will mark the return of the Kuwaiti emir and will include former secretaries of state Henry A. Kissinger and Alexander M. Haig Jr., along with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick. House rules permit members to travel at the expense of private companies, an ethics committee spokesman said yesterday, adding that the trip must be listed on financial disclosure forms.
Ms. Land declined to reveal the names of the other lawmakers, referring calls to the Kuwaiti Embassy. Kuwaiti officials could not be reached. But among the congressmen on the trip will be Representatives Robert K. Dornan, R-Calif.; Elton Gallegly, R-Calif.; John R. Kasich, Michael G. Oxley and Chalmers P. Wylie, all Republicans from Ohio; Thomas A. Luken, D-Ohio; and Peter Geren, D-Texas; spokesmen for the lawmakers said.