Governor out of town 232 days in 2003

Murkowski's travel expenses double those of previous governor

Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2004

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Frank Murkowski spent 232 days outside of Juneau on state business last year, at more than double the cost in state-paid travel compared with his predecessor the previous year, according to a state travel report.

Murkowski spent about $60,000 in travel costs in 2003, his first full year in office. Gov. Tony Knowles spent $28,872 on his state travel the previous year, although he left office with about a month left in the year.

The figures don't include the use of state aircraft, for which the governor's office reimburses the public safety department $240,000.

"It means we're getting more done," John Manly, the governor's spokesman, told the Anchorage Daily News.

Murkowski spent the entire month of October and most of November on the road.

In October, he went to Anchorage, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Houston, South Dakota, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. Murkowski followed that up the next month with trips to Anchorage, Nome, Connecticut, New York, Washington, D.C., and Texas.

Murkowski said he was taking care of state business, such as talking to the oil companies about possibly building a natural gas pipeline and other energy issues.

The travel report offers only broad descriptions of what the governor did on his trips. But it shows his fall travel included attendance at the North American Natural Gas Summit in Houston and the annual meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America in Dallas.

The governor has tacked on personal business to state trips, like turkey hunting in Texas. The governor's office said he pays for his own expenses on those excursions.

During his frequent travels last fall, Murkowski also went to Connecticut for the dedication of the new state ferry Fairweather and on a trip to Asia that covered four nations.

Manly said the Asia trip was an effective trade mission.

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