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Monday, January 24, 2011 - 9:25am

Speaker Defends Europe Trip

Georgia House Speaker, David Ralston today defended taking a trip to Europe paid for by a lobbyist . The $17,000 Thanksgiving trip that included family and staff members has come under scrutiny from ethics watchdog groups.

Ralston says it was a fact-finding trip over thanksgiving to learn about how rail is used in Europe and his family was included as part of the deal.

"I don't ever regret spending Thanksgiving with my family. There was no taxpayer money involved. I'm not for sale," said Ralston.

The trip was paid for by a consulting group that works on rail projects in the U.S.

Ralston says he believes rail needs to be part of Georgia's transportation future. The Watchdog group common cause says the trip shows that lobbyist spending should be capped at $100. Currently there is not limit, but all spending by lobbyist has to be made public.