Political Insider

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Georgia Sixth: Ossoff, Handel overseas trips in spotlight

As Republican Karen Handel comes under fire for her taxpayer-funded overseas trip, federal documents show that Democrat Jon Ossoff took a trio of trips abroad paid for by outside groups while he was a congressional aide.

The trips took place while he was a staffer to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and cost at least $14,000. They include a 2011 venture to Turkey sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America, a 2011 trip to Taiwan paid for by the Taiwanese government and a 2012 journey to Liberia and Ghana funded by the Atlanta-based CARE charity.

The travel for Ossoff and Handel has come under scrutiny in the June 20 runoff for Georgia’s 6th District, as every part of both candidates’ records are in the spotlight in a must-win race for Republicans.



House Democrats have slammed Handel for her part in a taxpayer-funded delegation to China when she was Georgia’s secretary of state, saying in an attack ad she “traveled to China on our dime” in 2008. She has said the trip was part of an economic development mission to bring jobs to Georgia that included several lawmakers and business officials.

Ossoff has put his experience as an aide to Johnson at the center of his campaign. Records show that he reported the trips to Turkey and Africa with the Clerk of the House. The trip to Taiwan did not require disclosure because the journey was classified as a cultural exchange and not a “gift.”

The trip was listed on Johnson’s personal financial disclosure, but only staffers who made more than $111,000 were required to report such exchanges. Records show Ossoff’s salary was below that threshold.

The two are squaring off in a nationally-watched runoff to represent the district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb and has been in GOP hands for decades.

It’s the most expensive U.S. House contest in the nation’s history, and President Donald Trump has ensured it is seen as a test of his popularity by getting personally involved in the race.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.