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Mixed Purpose Trips

Below is a condensed version of this topic; for complete guidance please refer to the House Ethics Manual, Chapter 3 on travel.

Mixed Purpose Trips

For the most part, the preceding discussion in this section treats all trips as having a single purpose, i.e., an officially-connected purpose, a personal purpose, a political purpose, or an official purpose.  However, insofar as the Ethics Committee is concerned, it is possible for a trip to have more than one such purpose.

As to any such mixed purpose trip, the Member, officer, or employee must determine the primary purpose of the trip.  The source associated with that primary purpose – for example, a political committee for campaign or political activity, the federal government for official business, or the traveler’s own funds for personal business – must pay for the airfare (or other long-distance transportation expense), and all other travel expenses incurred in accomplishing that purpose.  Any additional meal, lodging, or other travel expenses that the Member or staff person incurs in serving a secondary purpose must be paid by the source associated with that secondary purpose.

The determination of the primary purpose of a trip must be made in a reasonable manner, and one relevant factor in making that determination is the number of days to be devoted to each purpose.  That is, often the primary purpose of a trip is the one to which the greater or greatest number of days is devoted.

However, any mixed purpose trip that would be paid in part with campaign funds or House funds must also comply with, respectively, Federal Election Commission rules or rules of the Committee on House Administration.  The Ethics Committee understands, for example, that FEC rules severely limit the ability of Members to attend a campaign fundraiser while in the course of officially-connected travel paid for by a private source.  Thus Members and staff should consult the Ethics Committee, the Committee on House Administration, and the FEC, as appropriate, when planning a mixed purpose trip.