Gov. Brewer’s last-minute Paris hotel change runs $4,100 tab - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Gov. Brewer’s last-minute Paris hotel change runs $4,100 tab

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 5:19 pm | Updated: 5:36 pm, Tue Sep 18, 2012.

So what's it worth to have hotel rooms in Paris with the right amenities -- and no construction out front?

It turns out the figure is more than $4,100. That's how much the state paid in May – albeit primarily from an account funded by private donations, not taxpayers – to cancel the reservations for Gov. Jan Brewer and two of her aides when they concluded, after checking in, that the Best Western Premier Opera Diamond just wouldn't do.

The governor was in Paris as part of a two-week trade mission.

That occurred on the heels of the Legislature adopting -- and Brewer signing -- a package of changes in tax laws aimed at spurring economic development. Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said his boss wanted to bring that message to European businesses herself.

But that doesn't come cheap.

There was the $6,400 cost for business-class round-trip tickets to London, as least for Brewer and Eileen Klein, her chief of staff. Kim Sabow, who handles many of the details for the governor on the ground, though, was stuck in coach.

There also were charges for intra-European airfares and meals. And the costs -- not counting rooms in Germany, which were picked up by the Arizona Commerce Authority – add up to $28,000.

But then there's that $4,100 cancellation fee.

“That was a beautiful hotel,'' Benson said. “But it was a European boutique hotel that was not in a suitable location for a business delegation of this sort.''

So Brewer and crew packed up and moved to the Marriott.

Benson said part of the problem was there was construction out front, creating a noisy environment. But that was not the sole issue.

“We're talking about a small boutique hotel that didn't have the kind of amenities needed for a business trip of this sort,'' he said.

So who booked that hotel in the first place? Benson said he does not know.

“And I probably wouldn't tell you the answer to that if I did,'' he said.

That $4,100, Benson said, reflects the cost of three rooms for two nights: One night because the governor and entourage had already checked in before they decided to go elsewhere, and one night's penalty.

He said while the cost was picked up by Brewer's office, it was not with taxpayer dollars. Benson said Brewer, like other governors, accepts private donations which can be used for things that perhaps should not come out of tax dollars, like gifts to visiting dignitaries and some travel expenses.

With the hotel bill paid, Benson said that leaves close to $12,300 in that account.

The cost of the Marriott, at more than $500 a night for each of the travelers, though, was picked up by the taxpayers.

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