Calif. lawmakers defend sponsored trips

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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