It's Your Dime: Philly Auto Show Junket - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

It's Your Dime: Philly Auto Show Junket

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It was a long weekend of hitting many of the hot spots Philly has to offer.

But these weren't tourists. They were state legislators, and they tell us they were on important legislative business.

A "Black-Tie Tailgate" at the auto show, a tour of a world famous art gallery, a two-night hotel stay with a view of the mighty Delaware River, and here's the best part: it's all free.

If that sounds good to you, you may want to win a seat in the Pennsylvania statehouse.

According to a confidential draft itinerary for the state House Committee on Tourism, that's just what some members enjoyed during their long weekend in Philly at the end of January, Fox 29's Jeff Cole reported.

It was committee work says Chairman Thaddeus Young, a Democrat of Chester County. He says about a dozen legislators and staff met to discuss funding to promote tourism, the state's second biggest business.

But that wasn't all they did.

Members spent two nights in the Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing paid for by their taxpayer-supported per diems.

That evening, legislators dined at the elegant Restaurant Panorama in Old City. The chairman says a "sponsor" picked-up the tab.

The governor's tourism partnership met at the Independence Seaport Museum for three hours the next day, Friday the 29th. And then it was on to dinner and that "Black Tie Tailgate Gala" at the auto show. Both the meal and the gala were provided again by a "sponsor."

On Saturday morning, members toured the world-famous Barnes Foundation Art Gallery for free.

Public watchdog Zachary Stalberg, of the Committee of Seventy, said now is not the time.

Stalberg said, "2009-2010, it's a bad time to be spending public dollars on this kind of a thing. And you just have to much more careful about how you use taxpayer dollars.

How much did this cost taxpayers? The state tourism office said it spent $770 for travel and the hotel. As for the legislators, we were told to file a "right-to-know" request for that information, and we have done that. We'll report it when we get it.

And, remember, if you have examples of questionable government spending log on to MyFoxPhilly.com or call our tip line and let us know.

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