Calif. lawmakers defend sponsored trips

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Nine lawmakers, primarily from the San Diego area, took trips paid for by groups who take contributions from major corporations and labor unions. Critics argue those groups have a stake in state budget issues and other legislation.

One lawmaker, who went to Israel on a non-profit's dime, defended his trip.

"I figure as long as you go with a group that has no vested interest but to do good for the state of California, and you're there for a purpose of helping your district, a trip is a good thing," said Assm. Marty Block, D-San Diego.

State law has strict limits on the value of gifts, but travel is different. If it's sponsored by a non-profit, it's OK as long as lawmakers participate in what's called a "meaningful way."

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