Thursday, November 26, 2009

Campaign donors, taxpayers foot the bill for Perry's family road trips

Gov. Rick Perry’s trip to Vegas includes bachelor party for his son


The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2009

AUSTIN – They say that what happens in Las Vegas stays there, but for Rick Perry, not all of it has.

The governor’s Oct. 24 political trip to Las Vegas to meet with Brian Sandoval, a Republican candidate for Nevada governor, included a bachelor party for Perry’s son, Griffin, spokesman Mark Miner conceded Thursday.

He initially declined to call it a bachelor’s party, saying he would describe it more as a dinner. He confirmed, though, that it was a celebration of Griffin Perry’s upcoming nuptials joined by a number of his male friends.

Miner said he didn’t know how many people attended the dinner and couldn’t provide details about any other festivity, saying he wasn’t there.

The governor used a combination of money from his political donors and the Republican Governors Association to pay for his Vegas trip. It’s illegal to use campaign funds for personal travel, but Perry has a history of combining business with pleasure trips so that political entities will pick up the tab.

He did it in February 2004 when he and his wife were joined by a handful of campaign supporters and anti-tax advocates on a trip to the Bahamas to discuss public school finance. That summer, he also went on a trade mission to Italy joined by his wife and daughter.

This year, he and his wife went to Israel to talk trade.

Taxpayers do not pay for such travel by the governor or his family, but his security detail is funded by the state. Department of Public Safety officials would not say Wednesday how much that cost.

The Las Vegas meeting with Sandoval might not have been that pressing, as it turned out. The former U.S. district judge and Nevada attorney general came to Austin a little more than three weeks later to attend a Republican Governors Association meeting hosted by Perry.

Perry has been a leader of the RGA, which raises millions of dollars to boost the campaigns of Republican governor candidates.

On the Saturday of the Vegas trip, Perry stayed at the ritzy Palazzo casino and resort where the cheapest rooms go for $239.

He flew to New York the next day to tour Wall Street with Texas business leaders.

© 2009 Dallas Morning News:

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