This spring, four House Republicans used money from their Congressional office accounts to send five staff members to a training seminar run by a conservative Christian group in Indiana that is leading the charge in the state for an amendment to ban gay marriage.

The expense, totaling $2,500 for the group, is a perfectly legal use of taxpayer money, but it highlights the broad array of things Members of Congress can pay for out of their office accounts. The payments also underscore the tight web of relationships Members can build with favored causes without violating rules against using taxpayer money to fund political activity.

In April, four House Members from Indiana paid the Indiana Family Institute to enroll staffers in the group’s annual training course called the Hoosier Congressional Policy Leadership Series.

The Indiana Family Institute is the state affiliate of the Family Research Council, focusing its efforts on supporting traditional heterosexual marriage while opposing gay marriage and abortion. Last year, the group’s political action committee, Indiana Family Action, helped fund an ad attacking Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) for voting for the health care overhaul, which the ad called “the biggest expansion of abortion in decades.”

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