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From the “Sacrifice for thee but not for me” department

Rick Perry sure does like to travel.

At a time when state budget reductions were used to help offset a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall, taxpayers were billed in excess of $294,000 in security detail expenses for out-of-state trips by Gov. Rick Perry or his wife, according to records released by the Department of Public Safety.

Destinations included the Bahamas in January for a family vacation and trips to Amsterdam, Madrid and New York by Anita Perry alone – visits that Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said were for economic development.

Perry traveled to locales including New York, Washington, California and Las Vegas for events such as promotion of his anti-Washington book, Fed Up!, speeches, duties related to his then-chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association and meetings with business leaders or potential supporters for his presidential bid.

His campaign – not the state – pays for many of the governor’s direct travel expenses, but the cost of the security detail is paid by the state. Castle said the policy on the security detail is from the DPS, not the governor’s office.

But Perry has previously said the state should pay those costs because he’s “promoting Texas no matter where I go.”


Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, said, “Most governors have security details, and those are expensive, but one has to wonder what the security threat to a governor is, and whether they need several state policemen and black, window-tinted SUVs in order to do their business.”

Jillson noted that for presidential candidates, “at the appropriate time, the Secret Service pulls in … and well they should, because that is a much higher-profile position, and the nuts do come out.

“But in the normal course of one’s duties as the governor of an American state, it is very difficult to think of examples of governors being inconvenienced, let alone endangered,” he said.

Travel is certainly a legitimate part of the job for an elected official, and there are legitimate costs associated with that. But I think it says something about Rick Perry that at a time when he’s demanding sacrifice from everyone else he’s not willing to cut back on his own expenses. Is he not capable of finding ways to do more with less? The business world has found numerous ways of cutting back on travel costs, including things like more teleconferencing, fewer business class plane tickets, and greater scrutiny of expense reports. Why can’t Rick Perry review his own practices to see where he can squeeze a little savings out of his budget? If everyone else can do it, why can’t he?

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