Montana Governor Keeps Political Business Off Schedule

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A survey of governors around the country shows that many, like Gov. Brian Schweitzer, do not disclose out-of-state travel done for political or personal reasons.

Montana’s governor usually releases a public office schedule to reporters, which lists official events and meetings the governor will be attending.

But he routinely leaves the state without listing it on his schedule — like earlier this week when he went to a Washington D.C., political fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association that Schweitzer chairs.

An Associated Press survey of practices in other states found many governors similarly don’t disclose such travel.

Schweitzer’s counterpart at the Republican Governors Association, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, also routinely leaves the state for political business without informing the public.

The Associated Press has asked Schweitzer to include such travel on his public schedule as a matter of public record.

The governor notes that he has made an effort to run a very open office, such as by leaving all of his meetings open to the press, but that he differs on the issue of events not related to his official duties.

Schweitzer said he thinks it would be inappropriate for him to have his staff compile and release a scheduled of travel for partisan political events or personal vacation.

“I could be criticized from the other side,” Schweitzer said. “It’s a judgment call and that’s the call I’ve made so far.”

Schweitzer, also like many of his counterparts, does not hide where he is going or has been if asked about it. And most of the governors routinely release schedules of public events.

Governors in some states, such as California and Massachusetts, will advise reporters when the state’s chief executive is leaving the state. And a few other governors will occasionally release to the public information on such nonofficial trips in advance.

But out of dozens of states where practices were surveyed, very few governors routinely tell the public when they are leaving for political or personal travel.

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