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Kaine's Travel Adventures

Anita Kumar

View An Often-Absent Governor in a larger map

Despite saying he would largely conduct Democratic National Committee work on weekends, Gov. Tim Kaine spent yesterday in Philadelphia on DNC business. He will do the same next Monday when he travels to New York.

The Washington Post has learned that Kaine, the new DNC chairman, has been to North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio in recent months in addition to attending frequent fundraisers across the state and in Washington. Read our story today here.

Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a nonprofit group in Washington that monitors government ethics issues, said in an interview this week that he did not think Kaine should have taken the DNC job while he was still governor, but since he did he should be upfront about what he is doing.

"If he is going to do two jobs he has to do more than the letter of the law,'' he said. "If he is going to be governor and head of the Democratic party at the same time he has a moral responsibility to make, as transparent as possible, his whereabouts.''

Kaine does not release a full schedule of his travels and activities, citing security and privacy concerns. Attempts to review his calendar through the governor's office, the DNC and his political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, have been denied.

Kaine said at an unrelated press conference earlier this week that he would answer any questions about his travels from those he asked him. But his staff, who speak for him in Richmond and Washington, have repeatedly refused.

Lynda Tran, his spokeswoman at his gubernatorial office, denied requests --- even those that would indicate only when Kaine was out of the state.

Larry Roberts, Kaine's former chief counsel at the governor's office who now holds a high-ranking job at the DNC, refused to comment and referred questions to the DNC regional secretary Alec Gerlach. Gerlach did not return calls and after one week was unable to provide a calendar of public DNC events.

Open government advocates say they understand Kaine's security concerns, though they note even President Obama releases a public schedule, and challenged Kaine to release his past calendar -- as Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley does.

"If security and privacy are an issue, surely releasing past schedules even in a scrubbed way shouldn't be a problem,'' said Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. "Retroactive disclosure should help bolster public confidence that Gov. Kaine's time is being distributed appropriately."

When we caught up with Kaine earlier this week, he insisted that all anyone had to do to find out where he is going is to ask him, and that no one had done so.

"I just think that's the easiest way to handle it,'' he said. "That way I don't have to instruct the governor's office to change the way they've done calendars for many governors before me. And I don't need to get the PAC to create something. I mean, they've got other work to do.''

Kaine said he usually participates in two events on each DNC trip -- one fundraiser and one policy event for Organizing for America, a group which lobbies for President Obama's policies. "We are building a grassroots movement around the United States to focus in policy wins,'' he said.

But DNC work isn't confined just to travel. Kaine held an executive committee meeting in Richmond in May and a fundraising dinner in Richmond this past Tuesday at the home of Carole Weinstein, a major Democratic donor.

By Anita Kumar  |  June 25, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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