October 29th, 2014
10:51 PM ET

Undercover camera captures lawmakers selling access to lobbyists

Laguna Beach, California (CNN) - On any given weekend, lobbyists in Washington head for the airport to jet off to luxurious locations across the country.

Destinations include Napa Valley in California for wine tasting, Wyoming for fly fishing and any number of spas, golf courses, even exclusive hunting trips.

They are invited to these weekend retreats by members of Congress and their political action committees.

The cost of accepting the invite is a political donation of anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. And that doesn't include the cost of travel and lodging at some of the most posh resorts in the United States.

Why go? Lobbyists tell CNN there is no better access to a member of Congress and his or her top staff than spending a relaxing weekend with them, away from Capitol Hill.

It used to be that lobbyists would take politicians on trips, but when rules were changed and that was outlawed, politicians and their fund-raisers came up with this variation - organize the trips and invite the lobbyists along to pay for them.


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Filed under: News • Politics
October 6th, 2014
09:30 PM ET

How ISIS makes its millions

Besaslan, Turkey (CNN) - On the southern edge of Turkey, rolling brown pastoral hills slope gently to the Syrian border, with small towns like this one dotting the horizon. The calm on this side of the border, however, belies the scene on the other side.

Just across the border in northern Syria, the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS is fighting a full-tilt battle in its effort to capture and control new territory, part of its push to create a sprawling Islamic caliphate, or separate Islamic state, modeled on the first caliphate that spread across the region in the centuries following the death of the Prophet Muhammad around 640 AD.

As ISIS fighters expand their control, it is in the border region, in villages like Besaslan, where the Islamic State group can make some of the money it needs to finance its wars. Oil-smuggling operations involving millions of barrels have recently been uncovered.

The oil comes from wells and refineries that ISIS has taken over inside northern Iraq and northern Syria, and until very recently it was easy to smuggle it into this quiet part of southern Turkey. One reason is that cheap, smuggled oil is a much-prized commodity in Turkey, where oil is so expensive that it almost doesn't matter who is selling it, even if it's your enemy.


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Filed under: International • Iraq • ISIS • Syria
November 6th, 2013
08:55 PM ET

Lawmakers have unanswered questions on attack at U.S. embassy

(CNN) - A week before Congress is expected to finally hear from CIA contractors on the ground in Libya during the deadly Benghazi attacks, a Republican member said it is long overdue the American public learn the truth of "the murky events of September 11, 2012," that left a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead.

"We know what the senior people have said but we don't know what the people who were on the ground are going to say and we need to get those answers," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) told CNN by phone Wednesday.

Congressman: Benghazi questions need answers, or more steps needed

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner sent Wednesday, Nunes said if questions remain unanswered or "if some answers differ substantially from the established narrative and timeline of the attack, then it would be warranted to take new measures to complete the investigation and synthesize the information obtained by the Intelligence Committees and other committees investigating the Benghazi attack."


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Filed under: Benghazi • News • Politics