PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and two aides spent about $32,000 in tax
dollars and donated money on a two-week trade promotion trip to Europe, with
thousands of dollars going for upgraded airfares and hotel cancellation fees,
the governor’s office reported.
Brewer and two aides went to Germany and France in late May and early June for
a trade conference, a seminar on trade, investment and tourism, and other
Tax dollars covered most of the reported spending, and about 45 percent came
from private sources that included a commerce booster group and a state
promotional account funded by donations.
The expenses were reported by Brewer’s office late Monday in response to public
records requests by The Associated Press and other media organizations. The
total does not include all the travel costs. For example, money spent on hotels
in two German cities and most expenses involved in state police accompanying
Brewer were not part of the tally.
The figure also did not include expenses of two Office of Tourism officials and
several Commerce Authority officials.
Among the reported expenses, trans-Atlantic air travel for Brewer and her two
aides cost a total of $14,000.
Taxpayers covered $4,950 of that amount, while the privately funded commerce
booster group paid to upgrade Brewer and her chief of staff, Eileen Klein, to
business class. That elevated each round-trip ticket to $6,389, more than three
times the fare paid for Community Affairs Director Kim Sabow.
“That’s a long flight, obviously, to Europe. In this instance, especially with
the private dollars paying for that upgrade, it was deemed appropriate,” Brewer
spokesman Matthew Benson said Tuesday. He initially said the upgrades were to
first class but later reported the move was to business class.
The private commerce booster account paid $4,161 in first-night lodging and
cancellation fees to a Paris hotel.
Benson said Brewer’s party stayed at a different hotel because it was
recognized upon arrival that the first hotel wasn’t suitable for business
travel. He said it lacked meeting facilities, and nearby construction caused
noise and access problems.
“The good thing is that taxpayer funds won’t be paying for that transition”
to a different hotel, Benson said.
Benson said the hotel lodging and cancellation fees applied to rooms reserved
for Brewer’s three-person party plus the governor’s Department of Public Safety
detail. Citing security considerations, Benson declined to specify how many DPS
personnel went on the trip.
Key stops on the trip included a Berlin conference that was partly organized by
Glendale-based Thunderbird School of Global Management, and the trade,
investment and tourism seminar in Munich for German companies that Brewer’s
office said had expressed an interest in relocating or expanding in the
Benson said he didn’t know offhand about any specific business recruitment
successes resulting from the trip, but he said the effort was worthwhile.
“This kind of a trip is absolutely imperative if the state of Arizona is going
to expand its presence on the international stage when it comes to business
recruitment and investment,” he said, adding later, “But you don’t measure the
success of these trips overnight. Sometimes it takes many months or even a year
before you start to see the fruits of these kinds of international trips pay