Saturday, June 20, 2009

RPV questions Kaine's whereabouts ... Mullins presses for info on expenses

It is nice to have a strong, articulate leader at RPV ... and Pat Mullins is proving again that he is up to the task. His latest move has been to file a Freedom of Information Act request for Democrat Gov. Tim Kaine's travel expenses now that he is pulling double duty as Governor of Virginia and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Are the lines becoming blurred ... is DNC paying for what DNC should pay for?

So where was Tim Kaine when this request was filed? In Kansas City, Missouri, headling a fundraising luncheon for Organizing for America, a political group established by Barack Obama.

In a statement from RPV, a press release told of the FOIA request and released a video:
“At a time when Virginia is facing an economic crisis it hasn’t seen in decades, our governor seems to be spending a lot of his time in other parts of the country,” Pat Mullins said. “Worse yet, he and his staff have steadfastly refused requests from the media for information about his travel schedule. We think Virginians deserve to know where their governor is, particularly when so many of them are wondering how to put food on the table and take care of their families.”

Mullins’ FOIA request seeks information pertaining to the daily schedule of the governor dating back to January 2009, when he became chairman of the DNC. It further requests records pertaining to expenses related to the use of the State Police Executive Protection Unit assigned to guard the governor’s safety.

Mullins was joined by Del. Chris Saxman (20th District) in a media conference call to unveil a brief video that highlights the Virginia economy and Kaine’s stealthy travel habits.

The Kansas City Star posted a blurb on its website June 16th noting Kaine’s trip to that city, initially referring to him as the “former” Governor of Virginia before a hasty correction was made. Had the Star not made mention of the trip, Virginians would have been unaware that their elected governor had left the state for a political function. Additionally, the Washington Post found out that Kaine was in Chicago last week only because their bureau reporter happened to spot him while he was in town speaking to a DNC group.

“To me, this is an issue of transparency,” said Del. Saxman. “Where is the governor at any given moment? How did he get there? Did he fly on a commercial airline, or use someone’s private jet? If so, who paid for the plane? Who covered his hotel expenses? These are legitimate questions that we believe should be answered.”

“When he was in Miami, Tim Kaine made a joke about walking around the pool at the Fontainebleau Hotel with his shirt off,” Mullins said. “Their basic room costs over $300 a night, with the best ones going for over $800 a night. Who’s paying for that?”

Under Virginia’s FOIA law, the governor’s office has five working days to respond or can obtain an additional seven days if extra time is needed to compile the requested information. The office can comply completely with the request, issue a partial collection of documents while explaining what legal exemptions allow them to omit others, or deny the request completely while explaining which legal exemptions allow them to refuse the request.

“Tim Kaine told the Associated Press that he would only be doing this DNC job on weekends, in the evenings or on personal time,” Mullins said. “Well, today is a Friday and most people consider this a working day, yet he is in Kansas City raising money. Last week, it was Chicago on a work day. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for Virginians to receive an accounting of where the governor is spending his time, and on whose nickel.”

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