Will Pawlenty Find Better Antiques in China or Japan ?

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s passport is scheduled to get a couple more stamps as his itinerary for September 9 through the 18th is to lead a trade mission to China and Japan. This is the Governor’s second trip to China as he has previously led trade missions to Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Israel and Poland.

Naturally, we all hope that this is a good investment of state resources. The 2008 trade mission to Israel cost $37,000 for travel expenses for the governor, the first lady and seven other state employees. (Note : generally these trips include three to four security personnel plus various other Minnesota Trade Office personnel.) Pawlenty said the costs of the most recent mission to Brazil and Chile would “be covered by funds left over from previous trade trips.”

Obviously, with the state of Minnesota’s budget, Pawlenty’s travel will be scrutinized so this time the press release states “Expenses incurred by the Governor’s office for this trade mission will be paid from trade mission participant funds, not the taxpayers.”
This is bunk to imply that the funds are not coming from the taxpayers … Pawlenty moves people around … dipping here … dipping there … take Lee Buckley which used $30,000 in sales of “Support Our Troops” license plates, to pay a portion of Buckley’s salary. Buckley worked in Pawlenty’s office as a $92,000 a year special adviser on faith and community services. Or, Josh Gackle, a policy adviser to Pawlenty, whose salary of $73,000 is jointly paid from the budgets of the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Pollution Control Agency. And for other examples of Pawlenty’s $702,000 shifting see TwoPuttTommy’s column.

It is not unprecedented for the other travel members to pay for Pawlenty; as I recall when Governor Ventura traveled to Cuba, his travel expenses were paid by the delegation. However to imply that Pawlenty has had tight control over expenses is just a little bit ironic considering the budget growth in the Employment & Economic Development Dept
FY 2007 $337,410
FY2008 $389,560
FY2009 $408,803
Forecast FY2010 $ 428,632

But, let’s hope his expenses are covered.
If so, I wonder if that would cause some questioning of the necessity for Pawlenty’s wife to travel with him.

For his South American trade mission, First Lady Mary Pawlenty’s official itinerary includes the socially important activities of “visiting a local antique and flea market, enjoying the sights and tastes of the Mercado Municipal (city market), and touring the Sé Cathedral and central plaza. Lunch is included.

Governor Pawlenty, Minnesotans elected you to represent the state … not pay for your wife’s antique adventures.