By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine rejected Republican charges Wednesday that he is spending too much time traveling the country as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Kaine's comments came a day after he released records that catalogued his whereabouts since he took on the second job in January. After weeks of resisting calls to be more open about his DNC travels, he promised to release a similar summary each month until the end of his term in January.
The records showed that from March 5 to the end of June, Kaine spent all or part of 30 days outside Virginia on DNC business, including 14 trips to 12 states and the District. He picked up the pace of his travel significantly in June, when he spent some or all of 15 days outside the state on DNC business.
"I am working pretty much all the time. I never am anywhere where I'm not working on state business. I'm taking material with me, on the cellphone, on the BlackBerry, looking at the computer," he said at a news conference Wednesday. "While I understand that people might say what they want from a political standpoint, I'm not running into any people who are questioning the amount of work I'm doing in the state, and I think the results we're showing as a state government in very, very tough times demonstrate that."
Kaine insisted he has always been open about his travels, despite the repeated refusals by his office to release a work schedule or an account of his party activities.
He said he has always been willing to answer questions when asked about his DNC work. But he said he decided to reverse course and release the monthly summaries to avoid the impression he had something to hide. That decision came on the same day Virginia State Police had determined it was legally required to release the records under Virginia's public information law.
"I've been willing to talk about it with anyone who has asked, and I've done so since January," Kaine said. "But I could either feel mad that some reporters weren't giving me credit for talking about it, or I could say well, shoot, if I'm talking about it, why not just show the locations where I am."
The comments did little to satisfy Kaine's home-state critics, who have been raising the travel record issue to challenge his commitment to the job he was elected to do.
House of Delegates Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) said Kaine released the records only because he was forced to do so by public pressure.
"The people in my district do consider him to be a part-time governor who is more concerned about raising money to help Democrats on a Washington agenda than he is on pursuing a Virginia agenda," Griffith said.