Posted: June 13, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Sometimes legislators pay a political price for taking trips to nice-sounding places with the state picking up the bill. State Rep. Peter C. Schwartzkopf did, and he never left Delaware.

Schwartzkopf, a second-term Democrat from Rehoboth Beach, had the bad timing to schedule a fund raiser for Tuesday, June 7. Like most receptions for lawmakers at this time of year, it was designed to extract contributions from lobbyists and to do it as conveniently as possible -- by holding the event at a Dover restaurant at the close of the day's legislative session.

Only there was no session that day for the state House of Representatives. It was canceled to accommodate some members who were traveling to Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border for a meeting June 4-8 of the Council of State Governments, a national organization of state executive, legislative and judicial officials.

The state Senate met, citing the press of business as the General Assembly winds up for the year in June, but the state House did not. No session, no fund raiser, no $50 contributions.

Schwartzkopf found out his reception was collateral damage about a week and half beforehand. He improvised, tripling up with Wilmington Reps. Dennis P. Williams and Hazel D. Plant, fellow Democrats who had a joint fund raiser scheduled after the session on May 31, and it worked out.

"We told people, triple the pleasure," Schwartzkopf said. "In one night they can hit three of us -- which is good for them -- and we split costs."

Meanwhile, out in Lake Tahoe, the legislators who were there ran into a little bad timing of their own.

The meeting was attended by eight lawmakers -- Democratic Sen. David B. McBride and Republican Reps. Gerald A. Buckworth, Joseph G. DiPinto, Deborah D. Hudson, Joseph E. Miro, Roger P. Roy, Donna D. Stone and Stephanie A. Ulbrich -- as well as Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Treasurer Jack A. Markell, both Democrats.

Travel expenses for Minner and Roy were paid by the Council of State Governments because both are officers. Minner is the president, and Roy is the vice chair.

As enticing as Lake Tahoe sounds, it was not the right month to be there. The skiing season ended with the Memorial Day weekend, and the golf course was not open yet. One night the weather was 20 degrees with an inch and a half of snow, and the warmest temperature any day was 59 degrees, according to Roy, who oversees travel for the House.

"June in the mountains is still pretty cold," Roy said.