Kaine Buckles on DNC Travel: More Time than Reported
- Washington Post Reports Governor Absent for Half of June -
- DNC Chair Still Not Fully Transparent on Purpose of Junkets -
RICHMOND - More than a month after Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins issued a Freedom of Information Act request for details of Governor Tim Kaine's travel in his role as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the governor has acquiesced and released his prior schedule to the Washington Post. With the revelation that Kaine was absent from Virginia for half of the month of June, Mullins called on Kaine to return to serious matters at home as the Commonwealth struggles with high unemployment, budget shortfalls and a transportation crisis that shows no signs of lessening...."What is a shame is that it took many weeks of prodding and poking around to get the governor to do what he should have done all along, which is tell us where he has been when he is not doing the work of the people of Virginia," Mullins said. "I firmly believe that if we hadn't made this an issue, Tim Kaine would still be hiding his travel schedule from the people who elected him to do an important job."...Mullins sent the governor a FOIA request on June 19, 2009, which was rejected five days later. At least two media outlets - the Washington Post and the Associated Press - filed similar requests and were likewise denied, until Kaine felt pressure enough to release greater detail to the Post. Nonetheless, the spreadsheet provided gives only dates and locations, not the purposes for the trips. ..."What we find now is that Tim Kaine has been less than honest with Virginia as to the extent of his travel on behalf of his national political party," Mullins said. "Gone for half of the month of June? With unemployment hitting high double digits in Southside? This borders on governmental malpractice. Why was he in Naples, Florida? Why was he in Minneapolis? We want to know that stuff."
Evolution of an Excuse
Kaine's explanation of his job as DNC chairman has undergone a remarkable transformation since his initial emergence as a rumored candidate for Vice President in 2008. Initially, Kaine flatly ruled out taking on the political role as being in conflict with his duties as governor. Since then, something clearly has changed.
Not Interested in DNC Post
"I don't view that, frankly, as consistent with being governor, so I'm going to be governor,' Kaine said in November 2008. "I would view it as taking my eye too much off the ball about things that need to happen here." (Roanoke Times, November 13, 2008)
"To Kaine, who had resisted previous overtures from party leaders to take the DNC post, the deciding moment came in an offer he couldn't refuse from a friend - the man he helped elect - President Barack Obama." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 5, 2009)
But it Will be Just on Weekends ... Trust Me
"Kaine said he will do the DNC job on personal time, evenings and weekends," reported the Associated Press on January 6, 2009 ("Kaine Says He'll Limit Time Spent As Party Leader"). "‘I think it will be an electronic gig anyway, using e-mail and phone and others," Kaine added.
"Even the governor is allowed to have a little fun on the weekends," said Kaine spokeswoman Lynda Tran (Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 20, 2009).
But I'm Not Telling
"The letter of the law clearly provides that the office of Governor Kaine need not provide documents related to his personal schedule under FOIA." (Tim Kaine Letter of Response to RPV FOIA Request, June 26, 2009)
Well, Maybe I Will
"I just think the easiest way to handle it is for folks to ask, and I'll answer it," Kaine said. ("Kaine on Travel," Washington Post, Virginia Politics Blog, June 23, 2009)
Or Maybe I Won't
"But repeated attempts to review Kaine's schedule -- in Richmond, around the state or across the country -- before and after he became DNC chairman in late January have been unsuccessful. The Washington Post has requested Kaine's calendar through the governor's office, the DNC and his political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. The requests have been denied or gone unanswered." ("Va. Governor Is Really Going Places," Washington Post, June 25, 2009)
Okay, You Got Me
"According to newly released documents, Kaine's out-of-state travel has accelerated substantially as he has taken on a more visible national role in selling President Obama's agenda, but it has also come as the economic crisis has worsened in Virginia, where the unemployment rate has been rising and state revenue has been falling...."Kaine also reversed course on Tuesday and announced that he will provide a summary of his daily whereabouts at the end of each month until he leaves office in January. That decision came after his office resisted weeks of pressure that he be more transparent about his travels for the DNC." ("Kaine Pledges to Publish Daily Travel Records Every Month," Washington Post, July 22, 2009)...."This whole thing has become absurd," Chairman Mullins said. "If he'd just been up front with us from the start, none of this nonsense would have been necessary. Now, if he'll just tell us why he's going to Chicago or Beverly Hills, then we'll be getting somewhere. Meanwhile, we still need jobs here in Virginia, we have to close the budget gap, we have to fix our roads, we have to address college tuition. There's a lot to do here, and you just can't do it when you spend fifteen days a month doing the bidding of your national political leaders."...The Republican Party of Virginia has produced an Internet video spotlighting Kaine's travel schedule and his reluctance to disclose to Virginia citizens where he is at any given moment. (Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg1kqenUyyI)
Republican Party of Virginia
Pat Mullins, Chairman
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Posted by Jody L. Wilcox at 8:42 AM