-By Marie Diamond and Alex Seitz-Wald
June 29, 2011- As Texas faced some of the worst wildfires in its history and a severe drought crisis that has caused the federal government to declare the entire state a disaster area, its governor was schmoozing with well-heeled conservative donors in Vail, Colorado at a retreat organized by the right-wing industrialist Koch brothers. Gov. Rick Perry (R) left his state without notifying constituents or the press and dodged inquiries into his whereabouts. The media had to resort to tracking the tail number of a private plane owned by one of Perry’s major campaign donors. “This was an opportunity to talk about the economic success in Texas,” a spokesperson said, denying that the trip had anything to do with a potential presidential run.
Perry has spent the past two months complaining that the Obama administration has not been paying enough attention to his state’s fires.
Meanwhile, in Florida, days after declaring a state of emergency for his state’s own climate crisis, Gov. Rick Scott (R) disappeared over the weekend, failing to disclose his whereabouts in his public schedule and refusing to respond to numerous press inquiries. Yesterday, Scott finally admitted he left the state without informing his constituents to attend the the Koch summit. Florida press spent most of the past few days trying to track down the rogue governor while more than 300 wildfires continue to burn in the state:
We finally have an answer as to where Gov. Rick Scott was this weekend, and it confirms our suspicion: at the billionaire Koch brothers’ secret conference outside Vail, Colorado.
St. Petersburg Times reporter Alex Leary got the information out of him, a day after the governor’s spokesman wouldn’t confirm or deny whether Scott was there.
“I told anybody who asked me,” the governor told the Times, apparently ignoring the fact that he spends most of his days playing hide-and-seek from the media.
For the first time since he took office, Scott’s public schedule was empty this past weekend, leading most to assume he was trying to conceal his attendance at the Koch event. Scott eventually admitted that he addressed attendees at the retreat, but was vague about what he said.
The Koch brothers host a few of these gatherings each year to bring together conservative lawmakers and corporate titans to discuss their agenda and raise money for political groups, such as Americans for Prosperity and other Koch-funded enterprises. A January retreat in California reportedly raised $49 million for conservative campaigns.