The following is a news analysis.
In December 2009, while I was reporting for CBS News, I received a notification from a Congressional email list giving the names of all the members of Congress who were planning to attend a Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The first thing I thought was, "That's a lot of people going to a summit where they had just decided there would be no major initiative signed!"
I had no idea at the time, but it was even bigger than I thought.
I set about trying to find out the cost taxpayers to send all those members of Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) as well as-- out turns out-- their staff, and even their family members to the junket.
The financial numbers were being kept very secret by Congressional leaders, even though it is public information and you and I paid the bills.
I knew there would have to be filings and disclosures, but Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office told me I would just have to wait until those filings came out.
Ultimately, I was able to gather some information by calling individual members' offices. Please note the estimates in my first report ended up being far, far under the true, outrageous cost!
I did two reports. By the time I did the second report, the official filings had been made. For 15 Democratic and 6 Republican Congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,406 tax dollars each. That's $2,200 a day - more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgage payment.
The videos of my reports have long since disappeared from the CBS News website. But one of the stories still exists on a site for Sen. Jim Inhofe. Watch it below... and then read the transcript for both reports. See the actual expense reports at the end of this post.
PART ONE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Few would argue with the U.S. having a presence at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. But wait until you hear what we found about how many in Congress got all-expense paid trips to Denmark on your dime.
CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports that cameras spotted House Speaker Nancy Pelosiat the summit. She called the shots on who got to go. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and embattled Chairman of the Tax Committee Charles Rangelwere also there.
They were joined by 18 colleagues: Democrats: Waxman, Miller, Markey, Gordon, Levin, Blumenauer, DeGette, Inslee, Ryan, Butterfield, Cleaver, Giffords, and Republicans: Barton, Upton, Moore Capito, Sullivan, Blackburn and Sensenbrenner.
That's not the half of it. But finding out more was a bit like trying to get the keys to Ft. Knox. Many referred us to Speaker Pelosi who wouldn't agree to an interview. Her office said it "will comply with disclosure requirements" but wouldn't give us cost estimates or even tell us where they all stayed.
Senator Inhofe (R-OK)is one of the few who provided us any detail. He attended the summit on his own for just a few hours, to give an "opposing view."
"They're going because it's the biggest party of the year," Sen. Inhofe said. "The worst thing that happened there is they ran out of caviar."
Our investigation found that the congressional delegation was so large, it needed three military jets: two 737's and a Gulfstream Five -- up to 64 passengers -- traveling in luxurious comfort.
Along with those who flew commercial, we counted at least 101 Congress-related attendees. All for a summit that failed to deliver a global climate deal.
As a perk, some took spouses, since they could snag an open seat on a military jet or share a room at no extra cost to taxpayers. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was there with her husband. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)was also there with her husband. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) took his wife, as did Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Congressman Barton-- a climate change skeptic -- even brought along his daughter.
Until required filings are made in the coming weeks, we can only figure bits and pieces of the cost to you.Three military jets at $9,900 per hour - $168,000 just in flight time.
Dozens flew commercial at up to $2,000 each.
321 hotel nights booked - the bulk at Copenhagen's five-star Marriott.
Meals add tens of thousands more.
Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, wasn't against a U.S. presence. But he said, "Every penny counts. Congress should be shaking the couch cushions looking for change, rather than spending cash for everybody to go to Copenhagen."
Nobody we asked would defend the super-sized Congressional presence on camera. One Democrat said it showed the world the U.S. is serious about climate change.
And all those attendees who went to the summit rather than hooking up by teleconference? They produced enough climate-stunting carbon dioxide to fill 10,000 Olympic swimming pools.
Which means even if Congress didn't get a global agreement - they left an indelible footprint all the same.
PART TWO TRANSCRIPT:
Thanks to recently filed Congressional expense reports there's new light shed on the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Denmark and how much it cost taxpayers.
CBS News Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports official filings and our own investigation show at least 106 people from the House and Senate attended - spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and even a photographer.
For 15 Democratic and 6 Republican Congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,406 tax dollars each. That's $2,200 a day - more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgage payment.
CBS News asked members of Congress and staff about whether they're mindful that it's public tax dollars they're spending. Many said they had never even seen the bills or the expense reports.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is a key climate change player. He went to Copenhagen last year. Last week, we asked him about the $2,200-a-day bill for room and food.
"I can't believe that," Rep. Waxman said. "I can't believe it, but I don't know."
But his name is in black and white in the expense reports. The group expense report was filed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She wouldn't talk about it when our producer tried to ask.
Pelosi's office did offer an explanation for the high room charges. Those who stayed just two nights were charged a six-night minimum at the five-star Marriott. One staffer said, they strongly objected to no avail. You may ask how they'll negotiate a climate treaty, if they can't get a better deal on hotel rooms.
Total hotel, meeting rooms and "a couple" of $1,000-a-night hospitality suites topped $400,000.
Flights weren't cheap, either. Fifty-nine House and Senate staff flew commercial during the Copenhagen rush. They paid government rates -- $5-10,000 each -- totaling $408,064. Add three military jets -- $168,351 just for flight time -- and the bill tops $1.1 million dollars -- not including all the Obama administration officials who attended: well over 60.
In fairness, many attendees told us they did a lot of hard work, and the laid groundwork for a future global treaty.
"It was cold… I was there because I thought it was important for me to be there," Rep. Waxman said. "I didn't look at it as a pleasure trip."
But considering the size of the deficit, and the fact that that no global deal would be reached -- critics question the super-sized U.S. delegation -- more than 165 -- leaving the impression there's dollars to burn. In this case, more than a million.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Rep. George Miller
Rep. Henry Waxman
Rep. Ed Markey
Rep. Charles Rangel
Rep. Bart Gordon
Rep. James Sensenbrenner
Rep. Sander Levin
Rep. Joe Barton
Rep. Fred Upton
Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. Jay Inslee
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito
Rep. Moore Capito husband
Rep. John Sullivan
Rep. Tim Ryan
Rep. GK Butterfield
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Sen. James Inhofe
Sen. John Kerry
Mary Frences Repko
31 additional unnamed Senate staff
Special Envoy Todd Stern
Secretary Hillary Clinton
Pershing Deputy U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change
Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Permanent Rep. United States Mission to the U.N.
Daniel Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment
Lilburn Trigg Talley, Director of the office of Global Change
Sue Biniaz, Deputy Legal Adviser
William Breed, Director of Climate Change Programs USAID.
Steven Chu, Energy Secretary
Jean Chu, Spouse of the Energy Secretary
Rod O'Connor, Chief of Staff
Amy Bodette, Special Assistant to the Secretary
David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs
Rick Duke, Dep. Assistant Sec. for Policy and International Affairs
Holmes Hummel, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Policy and
Elmer Holt, Economist in the Office of Policy and International Affairs
Matt Kallman, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Policy
and International Affairs
Dan Leistikow, Director of Public Affairs
Devin Hampton, Lead Advance Representative
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
Deputy Secretary David Hayes
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland
Science Advisor Kit Batten
Senior Advisor of Global Change at USGS Tom Armstrong
USGS Director Marcia McNutt
Deputy Communications Director Matt Lee-Ashley
Jack Lynch (Security)
Dave Graham (Security)
Mike Downs (Security)
Director of Advance Tim Hartz
Security Officer # 1 Security, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Marcus McClendon Director of Advance, Office of the Administrator
Security Officer # 2 Security, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Jennifer Jenkins Physical Scientist, Climate Change Division, Office of Air and Radiation COP 15 Negotiator
Shalini Vajjhala Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of International Affairs COP-15 Negotiator
Maurice LeFranc Senior Advisor, International Climate Change, Office of Air and Radiation COP-15 Negotiator
Kimberly Todd Klunich Technical Expert, Climate Change Division, Office of Air and Radiation COP-15 Negotiator
Leif Hockstad Environmental Engineer, Climate Change Division, Office of Air and Radiation COP-15 Negotiator
Seth Oster Associate Administrator, Office of Public Affairs
David McIntosh Associate Administrator, Office of Rep.ressional and Intergovernmental Relations
Michelle DePass Assistant Administrator, Office of International Affairs
Security Officer # 3 Security, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Lisa Jackson Administrator, EPA
Gina McCarthy Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation
White House Executive Office staff:
From the Office of Energy and Climate Change:
From the Office of Science and Technology Policy:
From the Council on Environmental Quality:
National Security Council: