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.
Had the governor not flown to Vegas, she likely would have flown back to Oklahoma between the Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 bowl games, “which would have been greater mileage and cost,” said spokesman Alex Weintz.
We’ve uploaded a copy of the “travel use log” for the trip, which you can peruse by clicking the image to the left. StateImpact Oklahoma redacted the document to conceal details about the security team that traveled with the governor, per a request by the Department of Public Safety.
While the travel use log shows the “total trip charge” as $8,510.15, the actual cost of the governor’s bowl trip was less than that.
The state will pay about $6,633.63 “out-of-pocket” for the governor’s bowl game trip, said Capt. Charles Strasbaugh with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Most of that — more than $4,800 — paid for about 919 gallons of fuel.
The state also paid $1,593.78 to cover hotels, meals and car rental for the trip’s pilot and co-pilot, plus $190 in landing fees and $6.38 for charts and maps, records show.
“The figure is substantially less tha(n) a privately owned aircraft would rent for,” Strasbaugh said.
The difference is comprised of pilot and co-pilot salaries and various other costs, like hangar fees. The Department of Public Safety covers the pilot salaries and fees because protecting the governor is their department’s responsibility, Strasbaugh said.
If the plane were used by, say Forestry Department officials who wanted a bird’s-eye view of a wildfire, the Forestry Department would be on the hook for the pilot salaries and fees.
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.