Friday, April 27, 2007

How Very Small of Him

Governor Fletcher has pledged reimbursement? He has incumbency’s trappings, purse power, campaign “official” appearances, and state funded plane access. Expecting Kentucky’s taxpayers refunded was appropriate.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s campaign reversed course and now will voluntarily reimburse the state coffers for a portion of travel costs when the governor attends political events, such as fund-raisers, while on a trip for official business. The campaign issued a statement today saying that it’s working on creating on a "pro-rated reimbursement rate" based on the number of political stops on a trip compared to the number of official events, such as check presentations, ribbon cuttings and announcements. "This is new ground for Kentucky politics as it is the first time an incumbent governor has campaign extensively while in office," said campaign manager Marty Ryall.

The decision comes after the Herald-Leader reported that 11 of Fletcher’s 16 campaign fund-raising events since March 1 occurred in or near a Kentucky city in which the governor made a public appearance that same day. The cost of flying the state airplane to eight of those cities was $7,819.50, according to the Herald-Leader’s analysis. And initially, the campaign said it had no plans to reimburse any of that because state law — unlike other states and the federal guidelines for the U.S. president — doesn’t require it. "We’re following the law as it’s written in Kentucky," Ryall said at that time.

Ryall said today the campaign has reconsidered and is working with the governor’s office to calculate how much the campaign would owe dating back to Jan. 1. The forumla takes into account the number of political and official stops per trip. For instance, if the governor attended one campaign function and two meetings on state business, the campaign would cover one-third of the travel costs.

The campaign’s statement also points out that federal laws for members of Congress don’t require a U.S. representative’s re-election campaign to reimburse travel costs from Washington to the legislator’s home state as long as the trip includes at least one official event.

One of Fletcher’s rival in the Republican primary for governor is Anne Northup, a former congresswoman from Louisville, whose campaign for governor criticized Fletcher for not reimbursing the state. "That begs the question of how much she has reimbursed the federal government for travel to and from Louisville during her congressional campaigns," Ryall said.

Northup lost her bid for a sixth term last fall. The Northup campaign dispatched a statement dismissing that question, saying Fletcher "in typical fashion is making an excuse and playing the victim."

The statement did not include any data as to Northup's travel from Congress. "Ernie Fletcher campaigned on going to Frankfort to clean up the waste, fraud and abuse yet this is a perfect instance of how he has wasted taxpayer dollars and found every way possible to abuse the system for his own political gain," the statement from Northup's campaign manager, Michael Clingaman said.

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