The representative’s staff members have received over $12,000 in free trips from Gates.
U.S. House Democrat Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA) sent her staff on free trips funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this year according to recent disclosures, raising questions for voters on why a congresswoman is accepting free trips from one of the world's richest people.
The trip to New York was for a conference at the United Nations Headquarters organized by World Vision Inc., a globally recognized Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to addressing the needs of vulnerable children, families, and communities worldwide. The conference was dubbed the "World Vision NYC Congressional Staff Learning Trip."
In a bid to reportedly broaden his expertise, Arion Laws, a domestic policy advisor to Jacobs, embarked on the two-day excursion, commencing on February 23.
“As the legislative assistant for Representative Jacobs, I am responsible for advising the Representative on the foreign policy issues that will be discussed on the trip,” Laws said of the disclosure.
But Laws wasn’t the only staff member of Jacobs’ to go on the trip, according to disclosure filings.
Seven other staff members were also in attendance on Gates’s dime. The total for all of Jacobs’ staff to attend the conference cost nearly $7,600.
One of the “working dinners” attended by Jacob’s staff featured an engagement with Lisa Bos, Senior Director of Government Relations at World Vision. As highlighted on the organization's website, Bos plays a pivotal role as the primary liaison for World Vision's advocacy and educational endeavors with Congress. The group's objective revolves around a proposed revamp of the United Nations' famine task force, aiming to incorporate additional influential private donors, including World Vision, to enhance its composition.
But Laws continued to go on work excursions funded by Gates. According to another filing, between April 8 and April 15, the advisor departed from Washington D.C. to Kenya. This time, Save the Children Action Network, a high profile nonprofit organization advocating for the rights of children, as well as CARE, an international humanitarian organization that is committed to fighting global poverty, also helped with the trip.
The total cost for Laws’ trip, signed off by Jacobs, came out to just over $4,600 for all travel expenses and meals.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the world's largest philanthropic organizations, established in 2000 by Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, and his former wife Melinda Gates.
The foundation has funded some questionable initiatives, including progressive education reform, vaccine development, genetically-modified crops, and so-called population control incentives such as family planning programs.
Although World Vision Inc. is a historically Christian organization, in 2014 the organization made headlines when it initially declared its willingness to employ individuals in same-sex marriages, including gay and lesbian workers. However, according to a New York Times article published on March 27 of that year, the organization later reversed its stance when faced with backlash.