The Virginia Public Access Project released today the financial disclosures of the state’s top three elected officials, putting Gov. Bob McDonnell’s reported taxpayer-funded trips at more than double the amount of any other Virginia governor since the project started tracking spending in 2006.
McDonnell received $43,583 of taxpayer-funded trips last year, according to VPAP. Former governor Tim Kaine held the previous record with $18,194 worth of trips in 2008.
Trade trips to India, China, Israel and Paris made up the bulk of McDonnell's cost.
“The governor’s economic development trips have produced significant results for Virginia that dwarf the very limited costs associated with them,” a spokeswoman for the governor told The Washington Examiner.
The project also found that the governor reported receiving $56,500 in gifts and payments in 2011. Some of these gifts included airfare and payments for speaking engagements, $4,028 Monacular Night Vision Goggles intended to be used for public safety, eight tickets to a baseball game from Capital One, a $665 J. Crew suit and a $250 gift card to Bookbinders restaurant.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling reported about $4,000 worth of taxpayer-funded trips in 2011. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's finances were also reported, including a gift of "a box of a food supplement" worth close to $7,000.
* Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley revealed details about his proposal to raise the gas tax to fund a backlog of transportation projects.
In an interview with WTOP today, O’Malley said he wants to phase in a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline that would increase in increments of 2 percent annually.
* In Virginia legislative news:
The AP reports that the Democrats argued that the bill was unconstitutional and would trigger lawsuits if it becomes law because it could affect existing construction project contracts.
Republicans said the bill would save the state hundreds of millions dollars.
Sponsored by Del. Thomas “Tag” Greason, the bill, according to The Virginian-Pilot, authorizes the State Board of Medicine to develop regulations for the licensing of behavior analysts involved in the treatment of autistic children.
Both chambers have now passed the bill, and it is currently waiting on the governor’s signature to go into effect.
* A Washington Post investigation published Sunday found that a housing development deal signed between D.C. and the non-profit organization Peaceoholics four years ago has little to show for the significant amount of money spent.
* As the noon deadline came and went for Occupy D.C. protesters to remove their belongings from McPherson Square, many protestors seemed steadfast at staying put.
U.S. Park Police gave the protesters advanced notice that it would begin enforcing a no-camping rule at McPherson Square and Freedom Park at noon Monday. This means that protesters can have 24-hour vigils in the parks, but can no longer camp or sleep in them.
But at noon, protesters put a large tent over the main statue at McPherson Square with the words “Tent of Dreams” scribbled on it.
The Washington Post reports the scene was calmer at Freedom Plaza where protesters spent the weekend converting the camp into a “vigil” space. Most bedding had been stored away by the time police conducted walk-throughs.
A protester in McPherson Square was tasered and arrested Sunday after a confrontation with law enforcement.
The no-camping enforcement could start to be more strictly enforced at nighttime when the protesters sleep.