MONTPELIER, Vt. | Sun-kissed and amused by the brouhaha, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin returned from a Caribbean getaway with no apologies for keeping his vacation destination a secret or for going there without his security detail.
The first-term Democrat's whereabouts became the subject of speculation and news reports after staff members said they either didn't know where he was or wouldn't say after he left Thursday.
Adding to the public interest in his whereabouts, Vermont got walloped by its biggest-ever March snowstorm, which dumped more than two feet of snow in places and closed schools and some state government offices.
Mr. Shumlin revealed Wednesday that he had been to the island of Dominica in the West Indies and that he had purposely asked his staff not to disclose it — so he could be a private citizen and so the island wouldn't be subjected to the hubbub of a visiting dignitary.
He defended the secrecy of his four-day vacation and his decision to wave off his security detail — plainclothes Vermont State Police troopers who shadow him wherever he goes in Vermont.
He said he took the advice of former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who told Mr. Shumlin and others at a recent training session for new governors how to get along in their new roles.
One suggestion was that "occasionally, when you take a vacation in a stable democracy where they don't know who you are, go without security and really take a vacation," Mr. Shumlin said. "I took his advice. We thought it was best that the little island of Dominica didn't know that I was the governor. They didn't. … It was great to be an ordinary citizen for a few days."
He said that he would never go without security if he were on state business, but that it was appropriate in this case.
"The people in Dominica and the small communities … had no idea who I was, and there's no better security than that," he said.
But Vermont State Police were concerned about Mr. Shumlin's safety even before he left, according to an e-mail message obtained by the Associated Press through the state Public Records Act.
"Can you give me an update as to the Governor's status while he is gone?" wrote Lt. Michael Macarilla, assistant staff operations commander, to Mr. Shumlin's chief of staff, Bill Lofy, on Feb. 28. "Just an idea where he is God forbid there is a natural disaster or civil unrest etc. … in that area."
Mr. Lofy, in turn, forwarded the message to the governor's scheduler, Shana Trombley, who later provided the details of Mr. Shumlin's travel and where he was staying. That information was blacked out in the copy provided to the AP on Wednesday.