Gov. Neil Abercrombie planned to go on a personal trip last October to New York City and Miami, Fla., but the threat of across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, forced a last-minute pit stop to meet with congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.
The detour changed who paid for the governor’s $2,000 first-class ticket from Honolulu to New York and the flight on to the nation’s Capitol less than two hours after he landed. The public business Abercrombie tended to in D.C. left Hawaii taxpayers with the bill.
During the three-month period, the governor took eight inter-island one-day trips and two multi-city mainland jaunts at a total cost to taxpayers of just over $19,000.
Despite the public purpose of the stop in D.C., Abercrombie used his own money to stay at Capitol Hill Hotel after meeting with members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation Oct. 16.
The governor took a train back to New York on Oct. 17 and stayed at the Marriott Marquis where he also paid the bill.
The next morning Abercrombie flew to Miami. It’s unclear from his travel records why he went there, but the documents do show he used campaign money for his airfare and a one-night stay at The Claridge Hotel.
Abercrombie also used campaign funds to cover the cost of his Oct. 20 return flight home from Miami.
It cost taxpayers almost $4,000 for his two security guards to accompany him on the six-day trip, including travel and lodging.
While the governor’s travels to New York, D.C. and Miami mixed personal and state business, the other trip Abercrombie took to the mainland during this period was more public in purpose.
The governor and several of the state’s top money guys, including Finance Director Kalbert Young, Deputy Budget Director Luis Salaveria and State Economist Eugene Tian, met with banking executives, investors and credit-rating agencies during a four-day trip to Los Angeles and New York.
They flew to L.A. first for a big meeting Sept. 25 with high-level leaders at Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, RBC Capital Investments, Standard & Poor’s and Wells Fargo Bank.
Talks continued the next day with the directors of Fitch and Moody’s, credit rating agencies that can determine the state’s borrowing power and the interest on its loans.
Abercrombie and Salaveria then flew to New York for a Sept. 27 meeting with more Bank of America executives and attorneys.
The governor took the next couple weeks off, flying straight from New York to France on a personal trip.
The cost of flying Abercrombie and his security detail to Los Angeles, then on to New York and later Marseille before he returned to Honolulu, cost taxpayers roughly $4,100. The governor paid his way to France and back, but the state picked up the tab for his guards.
The governor’s day trips between August and October included stops on the Big Island to meet with fishermen, golfers and energy groups; visits to Kauai for the Kapule Highway resurfacing dedication ceremony and a farm fair opening; and Maui to check out the new film studio and annual seniors fair.
From June to December, the governor’s travels — public, personal and campaign trips combined — have cost Hawaii taxpayers roughly $66,000.
Civil Beat initially asked for Abercrombie’s travel records and related expenses dating back to the day he took office, Dec. 6, 2010. The governor’s office said it would cost $1,016 for that information.
The cost included an estimated 6.5 hours that staff believed it would take to find the records, 47 hours to review them and redact anything confidential, and $71 to copy an estimated 1,420 pages at 5 cents per page.
Civil Beat has been working with the governor’s staff to obtain the records in a more timely, affordable and digestible way.
The governor’s office charged us $105 for 112 pages of travel records for August, September and October.
Last month, we detailed Abercrombie’s holiday travels. Abercrombie went on eight trips in November and December at a combined cost of roughly $20,000 to taxpayers.
In February, we reported on the governor’s travels from June and July. He took 11 trips during the two-month period, costing taxpayers roughly $27,000.