- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

ANNAPOLIS (AP) - A state budget analyst has submitted an estimate on how much two trips by Gov. Martin O’Malley to Ireland cost taxpayers, after a Republican asked about expenses incurred to the state.

Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican, made the request after Mr. O’Malley made his second trip to Ireland in October, with less than two weeks before the start of a special session the governor called to address a $1.7 billion budget deficit.

In a letter to Mr. Kittleman dated Dec. 18, the Department of Legislative Services put the cost of the two trips at $17,484.75. The amount includes deductions for some expenses covered by groups that invited the governor for the two visits.

Warren Deschenaux, the director of the department that conducted the estimate, told a joint hearing of Maryland Republicans that he still wasn’t sure how much the trips cost. He also told reporters after the hearing that it likely would be a couple of weeks before he could verify the amount in the letter.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, has made two trips to Ireland since he was elected governor. He went there in April to speak at the 10th anniversary of the Irish Institute of Boston College. He was accompanied by one staff member, Colm O’Comartun, the director of the governor’s office, and two Maryland state troopers for Mr. O’Malley’s security detail, according to the letter.

The Irish Institute paid for airfare and lodging. However, meals, rental car expense and protective service were not paid for by the institute, according to the letter to Mr. Kittleman.

“Protective services were budgeted for and provided by the Maryland State Police,” the letter stated. “The remaining funds were accounted for within the out-of-state travel budget of the Executive Department ” Office of the Governor.”

While the state police provided a figure of $4,880.63 in expenses for the protective service during the first trip, the analyst who wrote the letter to Mr. Kittleman said an exact figure was not found for the second. The analyst included the figure of the first trip for protective service as the cost of the second as well, after being advised the two expenses would be comparable.

Mr. O’Malley made a second trip in October to give a speech to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. He also attended festivities honoring Dr. Robert Gallo’s investiture to the Royal College of Physicians. Mr. O’Comartun went along on that trip, too, along with two state troopers.

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce picked up the governor’s airfare and lodging on that trip.

“For both fiscal 2007 and 2008, $21,440 in general funds was budgeted for executive out-of-state travel,” the letter said. “The trips represent 10.3 and 26.0 percent of the budget amounts for fiscal 2007 and 2008, respectively [excluding security detail].”

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