WASHINGTON -- A new probe into the travels of members of Congress and all high-level government officials will be launched by the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, along with the GAO's inquiry into the travels of John H. Sununu, the White House chief of staff.
Originally, the GAO had been requested by Representative John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, to look only into Mr. Sununu's travel records -- particularly his use of military aircraft in travels for both personal and official purposes -- and to determine whether there should be a change in policy concerning such flights.
But yesterday the GAO announced that as a result of a request by Representative Frank Horton, R-N.Y., the ranking minority member of the House committee, its investigation would be expanded to include "a review of the use by high governmental officials of both the executive and legislative branches" of aircraft of the 89th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base.
Under congressional policy, the GAO regards as an order a request for an investigation that comes from a chairman or a ranking minority member of a House or Senate committee.
There were news reports yesterday that the GAO's announcement was sending members of Congress scurrying for information about their individual travel records, but the Department of Defense, the public records office of the Secretary of the Senate and the records and registration office of the Clerk of the House all reported no sudden increases in the flow of information requests.
"But you can't blame members for bending over backwards to make sure their records are clear," said a spokesman for the House committee.