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Gregoire Ignores Her Own Travel Ban

Last August, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire declared a temporary ban on non-emergency state travel. It was later written into state law.

The restriction came in response to skyrocketing fuel costs and the crumbling economy.

The ban expired June 30th. But recently released records show Gregoire and other state officials took dozens of trips while the travel restriction was in place.

Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins requested the records and has this report.

Since December, Gregoire — a Democrat — has racked-up more than $7000 in travel expenses. Mostly trips to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama and members of his administration.

Her most expensive out-of-state foray was to attend the National Governors Association meeting in February.

That bill came to nearly $2500. Gregoire's husband Mike also went on that trip and taxpayers picked up his $500 plane ticket.

Not included in the public records disclosure is the cost for Gregoire's State Patrol security team to accompany her.

Asked about traveling outside the state despite her own ban on non-emergency travel, Gregoire is unapologetic.

Chris Gregoire: "You know I've spent the last four years not being invited to the White House, not being part of the solution, not being asked to give the perspective of the people of the State of Washington."

The travel ban included an exception for trips defined as "critically necessary" to the work of state government. Gregoire adds she will continue to go to Washington, D.C. when President Obama calls.

Gov. Chris Gregoire: "That's good for Washington state, that's good for the people of this state."

Gregoire wasn't the only one hitting the road despite the travel ban. A list from the Governor's budget office shows state officials were cleared for more than a hundred trips just since February.

Destinations ranged from Oregon to Japan. Much of the travel appears to have been for training or conferences — and some of it may have been paid for by third parties.

Republican State Senator Mark Schoesler says he's "disappointed" the Gregoire administration didn't take the ban more seriously.

Mark Schoesler: "I think it has been a little bit loose. And I think we have to say no and mean it to have credibility with the public. If we don't say no and mean it on the little things how will the public ever believe us on the big items?"

Governor Gregoire did end up reimbursing taxpayers for one trip. That was to attend President Obama's inauguration back in January.

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