THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM THE AG's OFFICE
State taxpayers funded a $1,500 trip to Disneyland for state Attorney General Rob McKenna last summer, during which McKenna held a fundraiser for his gubernatorial campaign, according to records obtained by PubliCola.
This latest news comes just a few days after the Seattle Times reported on McKenna's record of taking free trips as AG that were paid for by various outside groups such as the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Government Leadership Foundation, a Republican advocacy group—but nothing at taxpayers' expense, the paper said.
McKenna's campaign finance disclosure reports show that McKenna held a fundraiser at the hotel on July 25, the second-to-last day of his taxpayer-funded stay at the Disney Grand.
However, McKenna's round-trip flight and four-day stay at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, California for the Conference of Western Attorneys General Summer Meeting between July 22 and July 26, were publicly funded, PubliCola found. While the main itinerary of the Disneyland trip appears to be legit—McKenna's packed work calendar details seminars and panels on everything from cyber-bullying to regulating the tax preperation industry—aspects of the trip raise ethical questions.
McKenna's wife Marilyn accompanied McKenna on the trip—and taxpayers covered the four-night, $1,212.12 bill for McKenna's room, plus $376.60 in reimbursements for his round-trip flight and two meals, according to bank statements from the Attorney General's office. (McKenna covered his wife's airfare.)
McKenna's campaign finance disclosure reports also show that McKenna, as a gubernatorial candidate, held a fundraiser at the hotel on July 25, the second-to-last day of his taxpayer-funded stay at the Disney Grand. McKenna's campaign fundraising records show that he raised close to $4,000 in late July from California donors.
Was it kosher for McKenna to hold a campaign fundraiser in the hotel while the public was paying for him and his wife to be there for an AG's conference? (McKenna's children appear to have accompanied him and his wife to Disneyland, according to tweets and tweet pics published by McKenna's daughter Madeleine from Disneyland: "Dubs up on Splash Mountain at Disneyland! Love my Huskies!" Madeleine tweeted along with a roller coaster picture on the evening of July 24th.)
We found no account of airline tickets or hotel bills for McKenna's kids.
The details about this trip don't jibe with McKenna's account in this weekend's Seattle Times article about McKenna's travel records. McKenna, responding to the Times' inquiries about the trips he's taken as Attorney General, said: "All the trips have been at no cost to state taxpayers."
The Times noted that some of McKenna's "trips were paid for by the Conference of Western Attorneys General," but they make no mention of the July CWAG trip that was, in fact, funded in part by the public.
The Washington State Republican Party said, in a press release on Monday, "None of these trips were paid for with taxpayer dollars."
I do not know if the trips that the Times scrutinized include the McKenna family trip to Disneyland, but portions of this trip were certainly billed to the public. UPDATE: AG's office spokesman Dan Sytman says the trips the Times reported on were all trips that were funded by outside groups, not by the public.
Sytman adds that the Aneheim trip was a work trip and that the campaign fundraiser took place in the evening. "No ethics laws were broken," Sytman says.
We have a call in to the McKenna campaign.
We also have a call in to the Washington State Executive Ethics Board.