BY MICHELLE MILLHOLLON
Capitol news bureau
August 11, 2012
From campaign stops to speaking engagements, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s calendar is crowded with out-of-state travel the next seven days.
Jindal kicked off his road tour in Iowa on Thursday, where he stumped for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Romney is out of the country. Speculation is high among national media that Jindal is in contention to become Romney’s running mate on the GOP ticket.
The governor’s travel coincides with his administration’s work on more than $300 million in cuts to LSU hospitals, which provide health care to the poor.
On Saturday, Jindal reportedly will be in Florida, again to make an appearance for the Romney campaign.
The tony vacation community of Aspen, Colo., is on the calendar for next week. Jindal is slated to join four other Republican governors, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, for a speaker series at the Aspen Institute.
The glimpse at Jindal’s travel schedule comes from organizers and media reports, not from the governor himself.
The governor’s press office sends notifications about Jindal’s trips but typically not until he is in the air or on the ground in another state.
At 12:28 p.m. Thursday, the Governor’s Office publicly announced Jindal’s visit to Iowa, two minutes before the doors opened at the governor’s meet-and-greet at Iowa’s Coralville Victory Center. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who acts as governor when Jindal is temporarily absent from the state, received notice at 11:59 a.m., Jacques Berry, Dardenne’s spokesman, said.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Shannon Bates, refused Thursday to confirm appearances planned in the week ahead. “We’ll announce travel plans when they are confirmed,” she said in an e-mail.
Bates said the host pays to fly Jindal to events.
However, State Police records show that taxpayers pick up the tab for the bodyguards who accompany Jindal, the governor’s rental cars and, on occasion, the fees when his luggage weight exceeds airline allowances.
From January to May, troopers’ expenses for protecting the governor during out-of-state trips totaled $11,894.38, excluding, for the most part, airfare.
Back in January, Jindal was backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination.
A campaign trip to Iowa for Perry cost Louisiana taxpayers at least $1,642.03. The expenses included meals for the governor’s bodyguards and a $10 carwash for his rental vehicle.
Jindal also made trips out of state this year for a family gathering in Florida; Washington, D.C. Mardi Gras; White House dinners; and numerous speaking engagements.
The Miami family trip was among the most expensive for Louisiana taxpayers, partly because of taxi charges, $770 in luggage expenses and $484.77-per-night hotel costs. The name of the hotel is blacked out in the records provided by State Police.
More recently, Jindal flew to Ohio, Utah, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Iowa to make campaign appearances for Romney.
The expense records for those trips are not available, said Capt. Doug Cain, spokesman for State Police.
In Iowa on Thursday, Jindal bashed President Barack Obama’s campaign and made phone calls to potential voters.
“And by the way in Louisiana, we make no apologies for clinging to our guns and religion,” the governor told Iowans according to the Des Moines Register.
On Saturday, Jindal reportedly will be in Coral Springs, Fla., to open Romney’s campaign office there.
Next week, people can pay $15 to hear Jindal and other Republican governors speak at the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization headed by New Orleans native and former TIME magazine Managing Editor Walter Isaacson.
“As a full-capacity audience is expected for this program, early ticket purchasing is encouraged,” the institute said in a press release on the event.
Mark Ballard of the Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.