Virginia Notebook: Another Governor's Travels Push Kaine on Disclosing Schedule
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The mysterious disappearance of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford caused residents of other states to wonder how much they know about their own governors' whereabouts.
It's something Virginians have been pondering for months.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, tells his security detail, his staff and his family where he is going -- but not the public.
Governors across the nation vary greatly when it comes to the release of their schedules, but some see fit to tell the public what they are doing.
M. Jodi Rell (R) of Connecticut notifies the lieutenant governor and the media when she leaves the state, even if it's just to neighboring New York. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California notifies reporters when he leaves the state but does not say where he is going. Charlie Crist (R) of Florida releases only a detailed gubernatorial schedule, but his office tells reporters where he is if they ask.
And Martin O'Malley (D) of Maryland provides copies of his full schedule, including out-of-state political trips, in response to requests made under the state's public information law.
Governor's offices in a dozen states -- from Maine to Missouri, Ohio to Oregon -- quickly produced complete daily schedules when asked by reporters last week after news of Sanford's trip leaked. Not Kaine.
His office typically releases a public schedule of gubernatorial events that includes speeches, bill signings and news conferences -- but does not include appointments in his office, activities for the national party or fundraisers for his in-state political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. Several days might go by with no events listed on his schedule.
Kaine has been unable to halt a growing firestorm by open-government advocates, newspapers and critics over his refusal to disclose his schedule.
The Republican Party of Virginia and the Associated Press recently followed The Washington Post in filing public records requests for Kaine's calendar. The state's largest newspapers and open-government advocates are calling on Kaine to release his calendar. In radio interviews twice in the past week, he has faced sharp questions about his ability to juggle his jobs.
Meanwhile, Republicans are gleefully watching as they try to use the issue to tarnish the reputation of a popular governor in an election year in which a Democrat is trying to ride his coattails into the governor's mansion.