Friday, June 26, 2009

Now Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine Has Gone Missing!

RPV HQ: RICHMOND - The Washington Post has uncovered previously undisclosed accounts of Governor Tim Kaine's travel as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, clearly outlining an itinerary that appears to contain political trips occurring almost exclusively during the normal work week. Seven of the nine excursions revealed by the Post took place on weekdays, amounting to nearly 78-percent of his travel.

The known trips are as follows, including one scheduled for Monday of next week:

• May 2 - Durham, NC - Saturday
• May 8 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Friday
• May 20 - Dallas, TX - Wednesday
• May 30 - Miami, FL - Saturday
• June 11 - Chicago, IL - Thursday
• June 18 - Cincinnati, OH -- Thursday
• June 19 - Kansas City, MO - Friday
• June 24 - Philadelphia, PA - Wednesday
• June 29 - New York, NY - Monday

This new information flies in the face of repeated statements by Kaine and his staff that his political activities would be confined to time that would not otherwise be devoted to serving the taxpayers of Virginia.

"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).

"I think the taxpayers should know when the governor is or is not on duty," said Pat Mullins, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. "Clearly, Tim Kaine is out of the office rather frequently. We'd like to know when that is and where he's going. By looking at the nine junkets that we now know about, it seems obvious that he's moving about the country an awful lot. How many dozens of times has he been away since January? I think the taxpayers have a right to know that."

On Friday, June 19, 2009, Mullins submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the governor's office, seeking information pertaining to the daily schedule of the governor dating back to January 2009, when he became chairman of the DNC. It further requested records pertaining to expenses related to the use of the State Police Executive Protection Unit assigned to guard the governor's safety.

Kaine also has denied the Post access to a complete listing of his political travel, despite statements that he would be open about his activities.

"I just think the easiest way to handle it is for folks to ask, and I'll answer it," Kaine said to the media on Tuesday ("Kaine on Travel," Washington Post, Virginia Politics Blog, June 23, 2009).

However, the Washington Post reports that it has repeatedly sought such information, only to be denied each time: "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)

The Post also reported that Kaine at first said he did not believe he could devote adequate attention to his duties as Governor of Virginia if he were distracted by the demands of chairing his national political party: "‘I don't view that, frankly, as consistent with being governor, so I'm going to be governor,' Kaine said in November. ‘I would view it as taking my eye too much off the ball about things that need to happen here.'"

Under Virginia's FOIA law, the governor's office has five working days to respond to the Republican request 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.

Also on Friday last week, the Republican Party of Virginia unveiled an Internet video spotlighting Kaine's travel schedule and his reluctance to disclose to Virginia citizens where he is at any given moment.

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