Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) reported receiving $43,583 worth of trips funded by taxpayers last year — more than any other governor since at least 2000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project which tracks the information.
The previous record was held by Tim Kaine (D) — $18,194 in 2008.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the governor’s recently released records show travel and gifts are in line with prior administrations, some of whom did accurately report the items.
“Over half of the governor’s reported travel and gifts for 2011 were a result of his leading official economic development missions on behalf of the commonwealth,’’ he said. “In fact, economic development trips account for roughly 80 percent of the governor’s total travel costs.”
Martin said McDonnell’s economic development trips have produced results exceeding the costs associated with them. For example, he said, the cost of the governor’s trade missions last year was $42,000, which resulted in 1,800 new jobs, $21 million in capital investment made in Virginia and more than $75 million in new agricultural exports from Virginia.
McDonnell’s office originally told us that the economic development trips resulted in $300 million in capital investments last year, but late in the afternoon, it lowered that number significantly, to $21 million
As we told you last year, McDonnell is one of 39 governors with access to state-owned planes, and one of 24 with available helicopters; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has both.
McDonnell reported a total of 62 trips and gifts worth $99,092, according to new reports delivered to the state and analyzed by VPAP. Gifts include tickets to baseball games and concerts, a clock, clothes and even a horse drawn carriage ride.
Martin said when you remove official travel and the gifts associated with official economic development events and travel, McDonnell only received $13,000 in travel and $34,000 in gifts.
State law does not limit the gifts lawmakers can receive, but it requires that items valued at more than $50 be disclosed.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the state’s chief jobs creation officer, reported 44 trips and gifts valued at $15,419 and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II reported 16 trips and gifts valued at $35,290.
Though state officials are banned from raising campaign funds during the legislative session, many of the gifts were offered during that period when donors often lobby lawmakers after treating them to dinners, receptions and goody bags.
State documents also show McDonnell and Bolling have rental property at Wintergreen.
Neither Bolling nor Cuccinelli reported debts in excess of $10,000. But McDonnell and his wife Maureen have debts between $10,001 and $50,000.
McDonell also reported that his wife is a paid trustee of the Frances G. And James W. McGlothlin Foundation in Abingdon. The appointment was made in 2011 — though it does not require McDonnell to state how much his wife is paid.
This post has been updated since it was first published.