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By Meghan Ashford-Grooms February 11, 2010

Hutchison says public money paid for Perry's Vegas trip

An unlikely voice has been injected into the political struggle over the Republican gubernatorial nomination: Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas.
The pop/hip-hop singer’s "Glamorous" serves as the soundtrack for dueling videos from the Perry and Hutchison campaigns, each accusing the other of expensive travel habits.

We dealt with Gov. Rick Perry's video in a previous PolitiFact Texas item; now comes Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's video portraying the governor’s travel expenditures as contributing to "a life of luxury."

The Web ad includes at least five claims about Perry's travel history. The one that immediately grabbed our attention was: "Taxpayers even footed the bill for Perry’s trip to a bachelor party in Las Vegas."

Did the governor experience Sin City on the taxpayers’ dime?
To support the statement in the video, the Hutchison campaign referred us to a Dallas Morning News item about a visit that Perry paid to Las Vegas in October. The Perry campaign confirmed that the governor made the trip to meet with a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Nevada and to attend a bachelor party dinner for his son, Griffin. But it disputes the Hutchison claim that taxpayers paid Perry's bills.

According to Perry’s office, the governor can use state funds to pay for state travel. The Nevada journey did not fit that bill, however, and Perry paid for it with a mix of campaign donations and money from the Republican Governors Association.

Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry, said the governor arrived in Las Vegas on Oct. 24. He ate lunch with gubernatorial hopeful Brian Sandoval, had dinner with his son and others at the Venetian resort and casino, and then spent the night there.

Miner said that the governors group paid for the lunch and the hotel room but that he did not know what they cost. He also said he didn't know who paid for the dinner.

It appears that the Perry campaign paid for the commercial flight that the governor took to Las Vegas. A campaign finance report filed last month said Perry took a Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas on Oct. 24 and showed a $137.60 payment to the airline on the same date.

But the fact that others paid for Perry's flight, hotel and meals doesn't mean that public funds weren't spent. Taxpayers pick up the tab for the security detail that accompanies the governor when he travels. And according to the Department of Public Safety, which staffs the detail, the Las Vegas trip cost taxpayers $12,321. That includes overtime, car rentals, hotel, airfare and meals.

And so, there is an element of truth to Hutchison's statement. Taxpayers paid a large portion of the cost of the governor’s trip to Las Vegas — the security detail that always travels with him. And while there, Perry attended a dinner for his son.

But Hutchison's statement in the video suggests that state money paid for Perry's personal travel and that his sole purpose of visiting Sin City was to party — neither of which is accurate. We rate Hutchison's claim as Barely True.

Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.

Our Sources

Dallas Morning News, "Rick Perry's cost for leaving Vegas"

Texas Department of Public Safety, summary of costs of Gov. Rick Perry's trip to Las Vegas on Oct. 24

Texas Ethics Commission, Texans for Rick Perry campaign finance report, pages 2196 and 2315, filed Jan. 15, 2010

E-mail interview with Allison Castle, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, Feb. 8, 2010

Interview with Mark Miner, spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry, Feb. 10, 2010

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Hutchison says public money paid for Perry's Vegas trip

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