Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson defended his frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan -- the subject of an ethics investigation, according to congressional staff members with detailed knowledge of the probe -- during a campaign appearance Wednesday on Hilton Head Island.
Wilson was asked about the investigation by an audience member at an event at the Crazy Crab restaurant sponsored by the Republican Women of Southern Beaufort County.
"I take (the trips) very seriously. That's how I do my fact-finding," Wilson said to loud applause. "I make no apology. I have gone to be with the troops."
Wilson, a Lexington Republican whose 2nd District includes Beaufort County, said some of the travel was because of a commitment to visit his former National Guard unit every three months while it was stationed in Afghanistan to find out how he could help it.
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He said he served in the National Guard for 31 years, and all four of his sons serve in the military. He said he has been to Afghanistan 11 times and to Iraq 10 or 11 times since he was elected to Congress in 2001.
Wilson said his trips allowed him to speak with troops and hear about problems he couldn't have learned about in Washington, D.C.
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