Brewer, aides spend $32,000 on Europe trade trip

Associated Press Modified: September 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: September 18, 2012

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and two aides spent about $32,000 in tax dollars and donated money on a two-week trade promotion trip to Europe, with thousands of dollars going for upgraded airfares and hotel cancellation fees, the governor's office reported.

Brewer and two aides went to Germany and France in late May and early June for a trade conference, a seminar on trade, investment and tourism, and other meetings.

Tax dollars covered most of the reported spending, and about 45 percent came from private sources that included a commerce booster group and a state promotional account funded by donations.

The expenses were reported by Brewer's office late Monday in response to public records requests by The Associated Press and other media organizations. The total does not include all the travel costs. For example, money spent on hotels in two German cities and most expenses involved in state police accompanying Brewer were not part of the tally.

The figure also did not include expenses of two Office of Tourism officials and several Commerce Authority officials.

Among the reported expenses, trans-Atlantic air travel for Brewer and her two aides cost a total of $14,000.

Taxpayers covered $4,950 of that amount, while the privately funded commerce booster group paid to upgrade Brewer and her chief of staff, Eileen Klein, to business class. That elevated each round-trip ticket to $6,389, more than three times the fare paid for Community Affairs Director Kim Sabow.

"That's a long flight, obviously, to Europe. In this instance, especially with the private dollars paying for that upgrade, it was deemed appropriate," Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said Tuesday. He initially said the upgrades were to first class but later reported the move was to business class.

The private commerce booster account paid $4,161 in first-night lodging and cancellation fees to a Paris hotel.

Benson said Brewer's party stayed at a different hotel because it was recognized upon arrival that the first hotel wasn't suitable for business travel. He said it lacked meeting facilities, and nearby construction caused noise and access problems.

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