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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and aides spend $32,000 on Europe trade trip


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

by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez - Sept. 18, 2012 01:57 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Gov. Jan Brewer and two members of her staff spent about $32,000 on a European trade trip earlier this year, flying first class, spending more than $3,500 on meals and Internet access and racking up $4,160 in cancellation fees.

In May, the Republican governor, her chief-of-staff Eileen Klein and aide Kim Sabow were among a delegation to travel to London, Germany and France in hopes of expanding business investments, tourism and job growth in Arizona.

The delegation included officials with the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The Governor's Office on Tuesday released trip expenses charged to its office. The Arizona Commerce Authority paid separately for costs associated with lodging in Germany, said Matthew Benson, the governor's spokesman. The tourism office also paid for other expenses associated with the trip; those figures have not been released.

Taxpayers paid for about half of the $32,000 trip and the other half was covered by private funding.

The records, released in response to a public-records request, show airfare cost about $14,000. Team ACA, a privately funding arm associated with the Arizona Commerce Authority, paid to upgrade Brewer and Klein to business class, Benson said. Sabow flew coach.

Benson said the group was scheduled to stay at the Paris Best Western. When they arrived at the hotel, they realized, "It wasn't the most suitable location for a business trip like this." The group paid a one-night cancellation fee of $4,160 and moved to a Marriott hotel, he said. [Hey, when you are spending other people's money, i.e. the taxpayers money, it's no big deal to spend $4,000 on cancellation fees, after all you are not paying the bill!]

Asked if the expenses were worth it, Benson responded, "It's critically important that the state and that the governor specifically participate in trade missions like this in order to make certain that Arizona is represented on the international stage when it comes to recruiting businesses and investment to our state." [Of course Arizona Governor Jan Brewer forgot to say that she thinks every penny the taxpayers spent to send her on a wonderful $32,000 vacation for her in Europe was worth it. Of course none of the reporters bothered asking the taxpayers if Jan Brewer spend $32,000 to send herself on a vacation to Europe was worth it to the taxpayers]

Last year, Brewer led a delegation of more than two dozen government and private-sector business leaders on a trade mission to China to try to drum up new commerce and jobs for Arizona. Officials at the time said the trip would cost the state about $24,000 for six government officials to attend. The governor said the potential payoff for that trip justified the expense.

Paris hotel Arizona Governor Jan Brewer rejected is top-tier

Hey, when you are spending other people money, like the taxpayers money, you can spend it like a drunken sailor. Who cares about a silly $4,100 cancellation fee, when the serfs you rule over will pay it!!!


Paris hotel Brewer rejected is top-tier

Construction work at site prompted cancellation, $4,100 bill

by Dawn Gilbertson - Sept. 20, 2012 06:36 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The Best Western hotel in Paris that Gov. Jan Brewer ditched after one night for a Marriott on the famed Champs-Elysees -- generating a $4,100 bill that included cancellation fees -- is in the top tier of the Phoenix-based chain, and the stay was arranged by company officials.

Of 84 Best Westerns in Paris, the Best Western Premier Opera Diamond is one of just 13 with the chain's "premier" status. The ranking system, which has three levels, was unveiled last year to help travelers distinguish among the more than 4,000 independently owned Best Westerns.

The 30-room boutique hotel, whose online video makes it look like a cross between a trendy W hotel and the chic Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, has a high rating on hotel-review site TripAdvisor.com, generating 4.5 out of 5 stars. Of the 246 reviews on the site, more than 113 call it excellent and an additional 107 call it very good. The hotel ranks No. 159 of 1,838 hotels in Paris, based on travelers' reviews and other factors.

The Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees has the same TripAdvisor star rating but ranks slightly better overall, at 121 out of 1,838 hotels.

The $4,100 bill raised eyebrows this week when the state released a list of travel expenses from Brewer's spring trade mission to France and Germany. Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson told The Republic at the time that the hotel "wasn't the most suitable location for a business trip."

Benson has since elaborated. He said the governor and her group, which booked more than three rooms at the Best Western, switched hotels after one night mainly because of construction near the hotel. They were not aware of the construction in advance of the trip, he said.

"The street and the sidewalk in front of the hotel was literally torn up, as I understand it," he said. "It was quite a difficult situation getting in and out of the hotel, never mind the noise."

Brewer's group, which included staffers and her DPS security detail, paid for one night's stay for each room and was charged an additional night per room because of the chain's 24-hour cancellation policy. The cancellation fee totaled $1,734, Benson said.

Best Western spokesman Craig Smith said the chain got involved in the selection of Brewer's hotel after the governor's office approached the chain to see whether CEO David Kong was available for the trade mission. He had a schedule conflict, so the focus turned to helping find affordable rooms for the trip, Smith said.

Best Western officials zeroed in on the Best Western Premier Opera Diamond in the city's 8th Arrondissement and booked the stay for the governor's office at a discount, Smith said.

"It was within their budget. It's a great hotel, a great location," he said.

The state did not break out per-night room charges it paid at Best Western.

The per-night room charge at the Marriott was about $500 including taxes.

After the rooms were booked, Best Western didn't hear anything about the hotel or the trip until the expenses were released this week and revealed the Best Western cancellation fee, Smith said. Best Western and most other chains charge travelers cancellation fees or make reservations unrefundable because it can be hard to fill rooms at the last minute.

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