Mary Fallin’s bowl trip “only” cost Oklahoma taxpayers $6,600
6:30 AM EST on January 12, 2012
On Monday, we published a little post about Governor Fallin’s cameo on the stage of the Fiesta Bowl Championship Trophy presentation. We asked why she was at the game and who paid for the trip. What we learned is that she went to the OU and OSU games to support our teams and the only thing the state paid for was her airfare and security detail.
Well, that’s where we thought the story ended, but partially inspired by our Pulitzer worthy journalism skills, the NPR StateImpact Oklahoma team decided to find out how much that airfare and security detail cost the state. The answer is $6,600.
The Lost Ogle, the popular satirical social blog known for lampooning Oklahoma politicians and media personalities, was interested in why the governor was on the stage during the Fiesta Bowl trophy ceremony.
StateImpact Oklahoma and its Twitter followers were interested how much, if any, taxpayer money was spent on the trip.
Fallin’s double bowl game trip to Arizona cost the state more than $6,600, records and interviews show.
The governor’s spokesman reiterated to us, as he did with The Lost Ogle, that the state did not pay for her tickets, meals or hotels during the trip.
But that doesn’t mean the trip was free for taxpayers.
The trip included Fallin, first gentleman Wade Christensen, and a security detail provided by the Department of Public Safety.
The entourage flew out of Norman’s Max Westheimer Airport on a state-owned Beechcraft Super King Air B300, which made two stops in Phoenix and one in Las Vegas before returning on Jan. 3.
The Las Vegas leg of the trip was for a vacation…
The governor attended the game to represent the state — “which other governors have done,” Weintz said — and to support OSU, the alma mater of both Fallin and her husband, he said.
Wait a second, not only did she catch a couple of bowl games in Phoenix, but she was also able to fit in a trip to Vegas?! Man, being Mary Fallin must be awesome. She gets to be her own boss, set her own schedule and take more breaks than a post office employee. Dumb blonde girls get all the breaks.
In all honesty, I’m not too upset about the $6,600 price tag. I think it’s neat that Mary Fallin was able to both witness her favorite team win a meaningful bowl game (and tell some drunk guy at a Venetian black jack table that she’s the governor of a state) for the very first time. Sure, $6,600 is a good chunk of change, and there are a bunch of struggling Oklahoma families or seniors or bloggers who could have better used the money, but Mary Fallin is our Governor and she needs to represent our state by watching a football game in person and being ignored while standing on a stage.
The thing that does bother me, though, is all the time Mary spends vacationing and traveling, and then trying to pass it off as “state business.” I really like how she tries to justify the trip by stating she was representing the state “like other governors have before.” I’ve lived in Oklahoma a long time and don’t recall ever seeing Brad Henry or Frank Keating’s forehead at any football game. Then again, Brad Henry was probably late to the presentation and Frank Keating was busy trying to get his wife a job.
Also, I don’t remember Keating or Henry or Walters traveling to the Bahamas (family vacation), Ireland (daughter’s wedding), Laguna Niguel resort (women's leadership conference), New York City (ringing the bell at the NYSE), Phoenix (bowl games) and Las Vegas (vacation) during their first year in office. Before you know it, Mary’s going to be riding a motorcycle across Russia with Ewen McGregor.
Anyway, now that shes knows some people aren’t too happy with her bowl game trip and Anthony Bourdain'ish passion for travel, maybe Mary will try following her own advice and spend time in her own state. You know, at great places like Roman Nose State Park, The Great Salt Plains or Win-Star Casino. That will be the day.
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