- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 20, 2009

Where in the world is Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine?

That’s the question Republicans are asking after Mr. Kaine’s duties as head of the Democratic National Committee sent him on six trips out of the state in recent weeks.

On Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking records of the governor’s daily schedule and an accounting of state expenses related to the travel since Jan. 21, when Mr. Kaine became DNC chairman.

“At a time when Virginia is facing an economic crisis it hasn’t seen in decades, our governor seems to be spending a lot of his time in other parts of the country,” said RPV Chairman Pat Mullins during a telephone news conference announcing the public-records request.

Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kaine, said the governor’s office adheres to a policy set by previous administrations and does not release any details of Mr. Kaine’s personal schedule because of security concerns and privacy issues. She said the DNC pays for his travel.

But Republicans said Virginians have a right to know the details of the governor’s out-of-state travels.

“To me, this is an issue of transparency,” said Delegate Christopher B. Saxman, Staunton Republican. “Where is the governor at any given moment? How did he get there? Did he fly on a commercial airline, or use someone’s private jet? If so, who paid for the plane? Who covered his hotel expenses? These are legitimate questions that we believe should be answered.”

Ms. Tran and Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said that costs related to Mr. Kaine’s executive protective detail are not subject to a FOIA request because they could compromise his security.

However, Miss Geller said officers travel with every governor at all times.

“The cost associated with the travel are absorbed through our budget,” she said.

To press their point about Mr. Kaine’s travels, Republicans have created a YouTube video that documents some of the governor’s most recent trips while highlighting the state’s budget gap, recent tuition increases and high unemployment figures.

The video also prominently features a remark the governor made about his time in Florida while meeting with Democrats in Miami.

“We did have a good time today being here. We actually got two hours at the pool here at the Fontainebleau. I mean this is a nice place. I was walking out there with no shirt and shades,” Mr. Kaine said in the video.

Mr. Kaine isn’t the first Virginia governor to step out of the state, nor is he the first to take criticism for it.

Former Gov. James S. Gilmore III worked as head of the Republican National Committee during part of his tenure as governor. He resigned in Jan. 2002 after serving about a year in the job. While congressional election losses and rumors of friction with the Bush administration swirled around his departure, Mr. Gilmore cited the travel demands as among the reasons he left the post.

“I just don’t want to be away 200 or 300 days a year,” he said at the time.

During Mr. Gilmore’s term in March 2001, the Democratic Party of Virginia created a Web site at www.wheresgilmore.com that chronicled the whereabouts of “Governor Gone-More” - the moniker they gave the then-governor because of his travel on behalf of the party and as RNC chairman.

The highlight of the site was a picture of Mr. Gilmore dancing with a blue elephant labeled RNC. Another feature was a running count of the number of days the governor spent time on national Republican Party business.

When Mr. Kaine took the job, he said he would limit his activities on behalf of the national party to evenings and weekends.

“But now unless there is a different holiday schedule that I’m not aware of, he is away at noon on Friday in the midst of an economic crisis giving a speech at a fundraiser in Kansas City,” Mr. Mullins said.



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