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Nevada GOP candidates spar over Israel trip

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Travel to Israel sponsored by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has become an issue in the race for Nevada lieutenant governor.

Sue Lowden, a former state senator, said her opponent in the Republican primary race, state Sen. Mark Hutchison, should have disclosed his 2013 trip to Israel with the American Israel Education Foundation, the pro-Israel lobbying group’s educational affiliate.

“I think you should be on the safe side of reporting and report everything so you’re on the safe side of integrity,” Lowden told the Las Vegas Sun in an article posted Tuesday.

Her criticism came in the wake of a long report two days earlier in the Sun outlining how lawmakers define what is and isn’t a gift that requires mention on disclosure forms.

It noted that four Nevada state legislators, including Hutchison, did not classify the AIEF trip as a gift, saying it was educational and also that they had the backing of legislative legal counsel in declining to define it as a gift.

AIEF trips to Israel are heavy with meetings and lectures, although they also include tourist stops and restaurant meals.

Lowden called the trip a “junket,” albeit one that might be useful for a lieutenant governor, who heads the state tourist board. She said her problem was that her opponent did not disclose the trip.

Hutchison called her criticism “desperate.”

Lowden lost the 2010 primary to be the Republican nominee for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat. She earned notoriety when she suggested that those who could not afford medical care could barter goods for it.

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